ISEMPH Presentation: Allen Rodrigo

ISEMPH - Allen Rodrigo, NEScent

"Neutral models of microbiome evolution"
Allen Rodrigo
Much of the research on microbiomes has focused on surveys of microbial diversities across a variety of host species, including humans, with a view to understanding how these microbiomes are distributed across space and time, and how they correlate with host health, disease, phenotype, physiology and ecology. Fewer studies have focused on how these microbiomes may have evolved. In this paper, we develop an agent-based framework to study the dynamics of microbiome evolution.  Our framework incorporates neutral models of how hosts acquire their microbiomes, and how the environmental microbial community that is available to the hosts is assembled. Most importantly, our framework also incorporates a genealogical model of hosts, so that the dynamics of microbiome evolution is studied on an evolutionary timescale.  Our results indicate that the extent of parental contribution to microbial availability from one generation to the next significantly impacts the diversity of microbiomes: the greater the parental contribution, the less diverse the microbiomes.  In contrast, even when there is only a very small contribution from a constant environmental pool, microbial communities can remain highly diverse. Finally, we show that our results are consistent with empirical patterns, and we discuss testable predictions of our models.