The social butterfly effect

Social interactions affect your microbiome (at least if you’re a chimp)

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Social interaction between chimps increases their gut microbiome richness and homogenises gut communities between different animals, report Andrew Moeller and colleagues in this month’s issue of Science Advances.

In a study spanning 8 years, Moeller et al coupled behavioural and gut microbiome samples from 40 Kasekela chimpanzees in Tanzania. Infants appear to inherit their gut microbial communities from social interactions; this between-individual similarity indicates that social behaviour can shape the pan-microbiome, allowing host species-specific evolution of gut microbial communities.

So, perhaps being a social butterfly is actually good for your gut – let’s get out there socialise!

Heidi Burdett

Editor, Nature Microbiology