Meagan Rubel

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9299

Approve Date

April 19, 2016

Project Title

Rubel, Meagan A., U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Effect of Diet and Parasites on the Gut Metagenomics of Environmentally Diverse Africans,' supervised by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff

MEAGAN A. RUBEL, then a graduate student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on “Effect of Diet and Parasites on the Gut Metagenomics of Environmentally Diverse Africans,” supervised by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff. This research characterized human gut microbiomes (GMs) using fecal metagenomic sequencing and parasite testing from ethnically and geographically diverse African populations to assess fundamental questions about human evolution and adaptation to disease and diet. African populations have adapted to a range of environments and foods as they spread through the continent, and their GMs may have coevolved with them. Furthermore, infectious blood and fecal parasites endemic to the environments of our sampled populations may be implicated in gastrointestinal disease, and may have a role in GM structure and function. We focused this research on hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and agro-pastoralists from Botswana, Tanzania, and Cameroon, and compared their GM sequences with industrial agro-pastoralists from the U.S..GMs were dominated by Bacteroides, a taxa associated with diets high in animal fats and proteins. Prevotella, a taxa associated with traditional diets that are high in fiber, was abundant in the GMs of rural Africans, although substantial variation was present- for instance, a subset of rural agropastoralists from Botswana had Bacteroides abundances similar to U.S. samples, which may indicate increased industrialization. Overall, Cameroonians were more highly parasitized than Botswanans and Tanzanians, and many individuals were polyparasitized by >1 type of fecal and/or gut parasite.