A new study suggests that some of the same beneficial microbes found in human guts today were present in the intestines of Neanderthals too. A group of researchers led by the University of Bologna extracted and analysed the DNA from 50,000-years-old Neanderthal faecal remains sampled at an archaeological site of El Salt, near Alicante in Spain.
The research published on Friday in Communication Biology suggests that human microbiota have been existing in the human gastrointestinal tract long before the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens diverged between 700,000 and 800,000 years ago.
Marcho Candela, the professor of Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology at the University of Bologna explains that these results help them in understanding which components of the human gut microbiota are important to human’s health as they are integral elements of biology from an evolutionary point of view.
Candela added that nowadays there is a progressive reduction of our microbial diversity due to the context of modern life and the research’s findings would guide us in devising tailored diet and lifestyle solutions to counteract this phenomenon.
Over the last decade, researchers have found a relation between the human gut microbiome and different health problems including mental health disorders. Millions of microbes that make the human gut microbiome play important roles in supporting human health like aiding digestion, governing the immune system and regulating metabolism.
Researchers have also hypothesized that modern lifestyle and diet has separated the human gut microbiome from the ancient microbiota lineages increasing certain health problems.
Simon Rampelli, a researcher at Bologna, said that the process of depletion of the gut microbiota in modern western urban populations could represent a significant wakeup call as it involves the loss of those microbiota components that are crucial to our physiology, according to phys.org.
By sampling the ancient DNA signatures from Neanderthal faeces many bacterias were found which are still found in modern humans like Blautia, Dorea, Roseburia, Ruminococcus and Faecalibacterium which help in balancing metabolism and immune responses in the human body by converting dietary fiber into short-chain fatty acids.
The research findings found evidence that the microbes that once populated the human guts have been lost over time and the discovery confirms that human gut today isn’t what it used to be.
Candela states that to end the progressive reduction of microbiota diversity, promoting sustainable lifestyles is very important as it will maintain the configurations that are compatible with our biology.