Why Climate crisis is impacting animal microbial health

A recent study showed impacts on animal gut microbiota

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Why Climate crisis is impacting animal microbial health
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The intestinal microbiota is a set of symbiotic microorganisms hosted by each human being or animal from birth and throughout their life. They have a beneficial effect on health, strengthening the immune system and protecting against infections by pathogens. Certain intestinal bacteria improve an animal's growth. Yet, the climate crisis is also having a major impact on the animal intestinal microbiota system.

The study Climate change is not just global warming: Multidimensional impacts on animal gut microbiota, published on the Microbial biotechnology, reported an interesting retrospective on this topic.

The researchers explain in the interesting abstract of their article: “Climate change has rapidly altered many ecosystems, with detrimental effects on biodiversity around the world. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that microorganisms living in and on animals can substantially influence health and host physiology, and the structure and function of these microbial communities can be highly sensitive to environmental variables.

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To date, most studies have focused on the effects of increased average temperature on the gut microbiota, but others as well aspects of the climate are changing, including temperature variation, seasonal dynamics, precipitation and the frequency of severe weather events alter animal fitness. Therefore, understanding the impacts of climate change on animals requires consideration of multiple types of environmental stressors and their interactive effects on the gut microbiota.

Here we present an overview of some of the main research findings on climate effects on microbial communities in the gut of animals. Although ample evidence has now accumulated that changes in average temperature can have important effects on the gut microbiota and its hosts, much less work has been conducted on the effects of other climate variables and their interactions. We provide recommendations for further research needed to mechanistically link climate change with changes in animal gut microbiota and host fitness."