The gut microbiome of nonhuman primates: Lessons in ecology and evolution

Jonathan B. Clayton, Andres Gomez, Katherine Amato, Dan Knights, Dominic A. Travis, Ran Blekhman, Rob Knight, Steven Leigh, Rebecca Stumpf, Tiffany Wolf, Kenneth E. Glander, Francis Cabana, Timothy J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of bacteria that play a substantial role in host metabolism and immunity. While progress has been made in understanding the role that microbial communities play in human health and disease, much less attention has been given to host-associated microbiomes in nonhuman primates (NHPs). Here we review past and current research exploring the gut microbiome of NHPs. First, we summarize methods for characterization of the NHP gut microbiome. Then we discuss variation in gut microbiome composition and function across different NHP taxa. Finally, we highlight how studying the gut microbiome offers new insights into primate nutrition, physiology, and immune system function, as well as enhances our understanding of primate ecology and evolution. Microbiome approaches are useful tools for studying relevant issues in primate ecology. Further study of the gut microbiome of NHPs will offer new insight into primate ecology and evolution as well as human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22867
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Michael Murtaugh and Dr. Herbert Covert for critically reading the manuscript and providing feedback; the National Institutes of Health through a PharmacoNeuroImmunology Fellowship (NIH/ National Institute on Drug Abuse T32 DA007097-32) awarded to JBC; and NSF BCS 0935374 and NSF BCS 1441409 awarded to RMS.

Funding Information:
National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant number: DA007097-32; National Science Foundation, Grant numbers: BCS 0935374, BCS 1441409


  • ecology
  • evolution
  • microbiome
  • nonhuman primate (NHP)


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