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Publications in peer reviewed journals

3 Publications found
  • Hallstatt miners consumed blue cheese and beer during the Iron Age and retained a non-Westernized gut microbiome until the Baroque period.

    Maixner F, Sarhan MS, Huang KD, Tett A, Schoenafinger A, Zingale S, Blanco-Míguez A, Manghi P, Cemper-Kiesslich J, Rosendahl W, Kusebauch U, Morrone SR, Hoopmann MR, Rota-Stabelli O, Rattei T, Moritz RL, Oeggl K, Segata N, Zink A, Reschreiter H, Kowarik K
    2021 - Curr Biol, 23: 5149-5162.e6


    We subjected human paleofeces dating from the Bronze Age to the Baroque period (18 century AD) to in-depth microscopic, metagenomic, and proteomic analyses. The paleofeces were preserved in the underground salt mines of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hallstatt in Austria. This allowed us to reconstruct the diet of the former population and gain insights into their ancient gut microbiome composition. Our dietary survey identified bran and glumes of different cereals as some of the most prevalent plant fragments. This highly fibrous, carbohydrate-rich diet was supplemented with proteins from broad beans and occasionally with fruits, nuts, or animal food products. Due to these traditional dietary habits, all ancient miners up to the Baroque period have gut microbiome structures akin to modern non-Westernized individuals whose diets are also mainly composed of unprocessed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. This may indicate a shift in the gut community composition of modern Westernized populations due to quite recent dietary and lifestyle changes. When we extended our microbial survey to fungi present in the paleofeces, in one of the Iron Age samples, we observed a high abundance of Penicillium roqueforti and Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA. Genome-wide analysis indicates that both fungi were involved in food fermentation and provides the first molecular evidence for blue cheese and beer consumption in Iron Age Europe.

  • Prevotella diversity, niches and interactions with the human host.

    Tett A, Pasolli E, Masetti G, Ercolini D, Segata N
    2021 - Nat Rev Microbiol, 9: 585-599


    The genus Prevotella includes more than 50 characterized species that occur in varied natural habitats, although most Prevotella spp. are associated with humans. In the human microbiome, Prevotella spp. are highly abundant in various body sites, where they are key players in the balance between health and disease. Host factors related to diet, lifestyle and geography are fundamental in affecting the diversity and prevalence of Prevotella species and strains in the human microbiome. These factors, along with the ecological relationship of Prevotella with other members of the microbiome, likely determine the extent of the contribution of Prevotella to human metabolism and health. Here we review the diversity, prevalence and potential connection of Prevotella spp. in the human host, highlighting how genomic methods and analysis have improved and should further help in framing their ecological role. We also provide suggestions for future research to improve understanding of the possible functions of Prevotella spp. and the effects of the Western lifestyle and diet on the host-Prevotella symbiotic relationship in the context of maintaining human health.

  • The Prevotella copri Complex Comprises Four Distinct Clades Underrepresented in Westernized Populations.

    Tett A, Huang KD, Asnicar F, Fehlner-Peach H, Pasolli E, Karcher N, Armanini F, Manghi P, Bonham K, Zolfo M, De Filippis F, Magnabosco C, Bonneau R, Lusingu J, Amuasi J, Reinhard K, Rattei T, Boulund F, Engstrand L, Zink A, Collado MC, Littman DR, Eibach D, Ercolini D, Rota-Stabelli O, Huttenhower C, Maixner F, Segata N
    2019 - Cell Host Microbe, in press


    Prevotella copri is a common human gut microbe that has been both positively and negatively associated with host health. In a cross-continent meta-analysis exploiting >6,500 metagenomes, we obtained >1,000 genomes and explored the genetic and population structure of P. copri. P. copri encompasses four distinct clades (>10% inter-clade genetic divergence) that we propose constitute the P. copri complex, and all clades were confirmed by isolate sequencing. These clades are nearly ubiquitous and co-present in non-Westernized populations. Genomic analysis showed substantial functional diversity in the complex with notable differences in carbohydrate metabolism, suggesting that multi-generational dietary modifications may be driving reduced prevalence in Westernized populations. Analysis of ancient metagenomes highlighted patterns of P. copri presence consistent with modern non-Westernized populations and a clade delineation time pre-dating human migratory waves out of Africa. These findings reveal that P. copri exhibits a high diversity that is underrepresented in Western-lifestyle populations.

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