Do Vertebrate Gut Metagenomes Confer Rapid Ecological Adaptation?

Antton Alberdi*, Ostaizka Aizpurua, Kristine Bohmann, Marie Lisandra Zepeda-Mendoza, M. Thomas P. Gilbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


During times of rapid environmental change, survival of most vertebrate populations depends on their phenomic plasticity. Although differential gene-expression and post-transcriptional processes of the host genome receive focus as the main molecular mechanisms, growing evidence points to the gut microbiota as a key driver defining hosts’ phenotypes. We propose that the plasticity of the gut microbiota might be an essential factor determining phenomic plasticity of vertebrates, and that it might play a pivotal role when vertebrates acclimate and adapt to fast environmental variation. We contemplate some key questions and suggest methodological approaches and experimental designs that can be used to evaluate whether gut microorganisms provide a boost of plasticity to vertebrates’ phenomes, thereby increasing their acclimation and adaptation capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-699
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number9
Early online date21 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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