Taxonomic and Functional Shifts in the Perinatal Gut Microbiome of Rhesus Macaques

Nicholas S. Rhoades, Isaac R. Cinco, Sara M. Hendrickson, Mark K. Slifka, Ilhem Messaoudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pregnancy and the postpartum period result in some of the most dramatic metabolic, hormonal, and physiological changes that can be experienced by an otherwise healthy adult. The timing and magnitude of these changes is key for both maternal and fetal health. One of the factors believed to critically modulate these physiological changes is the maternal gut microbiome. However, the dynamic changes in this community during the perinatal period remain understudied. Clinical studies can be complicated by confounding variables like diet and other drivers of heterogeneity in the human microbiome. Therefore, in this study, we conducted a longitudinal analysis of the fecal microbiome obtained during the pregnancy and postpartum periods in 26 captive rhesus macaques using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and shotgun metagenomics. Shifts at both the taxonomic and functional potential level were detected when comparing pregnancy to postpartum samples. Taxonomically, Alloprevotella, Actinobacillus, and Anaerovibrio were enriched in the gut microbiome during pregnancy, while Treponema, Lachnospiraceae, and Methanosphaera were more abundant postpartum. Functionally, the gut microbiome during pregnancy was associated with increased abundance in pathways involving the production of the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) butyrate, while pathways associated with starch degradation and folate transformation were more abundant during the postpartum period. These data demonstrate dramatic changes in the maternal gut microbiome even in the absence of dietary changes and suggest that rhesus macaques could provide a valuable model to determine how changes in the microbiome correlate to other physiological changes in pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • NHP
  • gut microbiome
  • metagenomics
  • microbiome
  • perinatal
  • pregnancy
  • rhesus macaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Taxonomic and Functional Shifts in the Perinatal Gut Microbiome of Rhesus Macaques'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this