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The lifelong relationship between microorganisms and hosts has a profound impact on the overall health and physiology of the holobiont. Microbiome composition throughout the life span of a host remains largely understudied. Here, the fecal microbiota of conventionally raised C57BL/6J male mice was characterized throughout almost the entire adult life span, from “maturing” (9 weeks) until “very old” (112 weeks) age. Our results suggest that microbiota changes occur throughout life but are more pronounced in maturing to middle-age mice than in mice later in life. Phylum-level analysis indicates a shift of the Bacteroidota-to-Firmicutes ratio in favor of Firmicutes in old and very old mice. More Firmicutes amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) were transient with varying successional patterns than Bacteroidota ASVs, which varied primarily during maturation. Microbiota configurations from five defined life phases were used as training sets in a Bayesian model, which effectively enabled the prediction of host age. These results suggest that age-associated compositional differences may have considerable implications for the interpretation and comparability of animal model-based microbiome studies. The sensitivity of the age prediction to dietary perturbations was tested by applying this approach to two age-matched groups of C57BL/6J mice that were fed either a standard or western diet. The predicted age for the western diet-fed animals was on average 27 ± 11 (mean ± standard deviation) weeks older than that of standard diet-fed animals. This indicates that the fecal microbiota-based predicted age may be influenced not only by the host age and physiology but also potentially by other factors such as diet.
Adrian Low,Melissa Soh,Sou Miyake,Henning Seedorf