Early Adversity and Gut Microbiome Composition in Wild Baboons: A Life Course Approach
The study of Amboseli baboons provides an important model for human social behavior, demography, and evolution. This pilot award utilizes the Amboseli baboon population to examine how variation in the gut microbiome predicts fertility and survival. Using the baboon population, the study also investigates how early life conditions and social interactions throughout life contribute to long-term variation in microbiome composition. Understanding the relationship between social interactions, microbiome composition, and its potential health-related outcomes requires repeated, longitudinally collected samples over the lifetime of known individuals. Such samples will take decades to collect in humans, but are already available from Kenya’s well-studied Amboseli baboon population.
The baboons are the subject of a longitudinal study that has lasted for over four decades, resulting in an extensive set of background information on individually followed study subjects. The detailed data on diet, space use, social interactions, social status, early life adversity and changes with age that are available from baboons make this sample population ideal for understanding the causes and consequences of natural variation in gut microbiome composition in humans.