Health and Disease Imprinted in the Time Variability of the Human Microbiome
The animal microbiota (including the human microbiota) plays an important role in keeping the physiological status of the host healthy.
Research seeks greater insight into whether changes in the composition and function of the microbiota are associated with disease.
We analyzed published 16S rRNA and shotgun metagenomic sequencing (SMS) data pertaining to the gut microbiotas of 99 subjects monitored over time.
Temporal fluctuations in the microbial composition revealed significant differences due to factors such as dietary changes, antibiotic intake, age, and disease.
This article shows that a fluctuation scaling law can describe the temporal changes in the gut microbiota. This law estimates the temporal variability of the microbial population and quantitatively characterizes the path toward disease via a noise-induced phase transition. Estimation of the systemic parameters may be of clinical utility in follow-up studies and have more general applications in fields where it is important to know whether a given community is stable or not. IMPORTANCE The human microbiota correlates closely with the health status of its host. This article analyzes the microbial composition of several subjects under different conditions over time spans that ranged from days to months. Using the Langevin equation as the basis of our mathematical framework to evaluate microbial temporal stability, we proved that stable microbiotas can be distinguished from unstable microbiotas. This initial step will help us to determine how temporal microbiota stability is related to a subject’s health status and to develop a more comprehensive framework that will provide greater insight into this complex system.