An important public health question is understanding how changes in human environments can drive changes in the gut microbiota that influence risks associated with human health and wellbeing. It is well-documented that the modernization of societies is strongly correlated with intergenerational change in the frequency of nutrition-related chronic diseases in which microbial dysbiosis is implicated. The population of Bali, Indonesia, is well-positioned to study the interconnection between a changing food environment and microbiome patterns in its early stages, because of a recent history of modernization. Here, we characterize the fecal microbiota and diet history of the young adult women in Bali, Indonesia (n = 41) in order to compare microbial patterns in this generation with those of other populations with different histories of a modern food environment (industrialized supply chain). We found strong support for two distinct fecal microbiota community types in our study cohort at similar frequency: a Prevotella-rich (Type-P) and a Bacteroides-rich (Type-B) community (p < 0.001, analysis of similarity, Wilcoxon test). Although Type-P individuals had lower alpha diversity (p < 0.001, Shannon) and higher incidence of obesity, multivariate analyses with diet data showed that community types significantly influenced associations with BMI. In a multi-country dataset (n = 257), we confirmed that microbial beta diversity across subsistent and industrial populations was significantly associated with Prevotella and Bacteroides abundance (p < 0.001, generalized additive model) and that the prevalence of community types differs between societies. The young adult Balinese microbiota was distinctive in having an equal prevalence of two community types. Collectively, our study showed that the incorporation of community types as an explanatory factor into study design or modeling improved the ability to identify microbiome associations with diet and health metrics.
- Community assembly