ABS 2022
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A cross-taxon review of the gut microbiome and female reproduction in mammals
Chelsea A Southworth, Logan Barrios, Stephanie Swegle, Elizabeth A Archie. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, United States

The mammalian gut microbiome shapes and is shaped by several host traits, including diet, immunity, hormones, and social relationships. These traits change dramatically during female reproduction, but the degree to which these changes lead to consistent gut microbial shifts across host species is unknown. To address this gap, we conducted a literature review to identify which gut microbiome features consistently change between and within female reproductive states across mammals. We included data from 21 non-human species (30 papers) and humans (10 papers), resulting in three conclusions. First, gut microbial shifts during pregnancy are not universal. Second, while the gut microbiome changes across pregnancy trimesters, the patterns vary across host species and populations. Third, compared to pregnancy, the gut microbiome is relatively stable within lactation and estrus/ovarian cycling. We are the first to examine the connections between female reproduction and the gut microbiome across mammalian species, providing a crucial synthesis and directions for future research.