Amy Lu, an anthropology professor at Stony Brook University, and two Arizona State University biologists are investigating how gut bacteria grow in wild animals.
“In humans and other model organisms, early life gut microbial development is known to have a large impact on later life health,” Lu said.
“Now we have solid evidence that mothers, both before and after weaning, can influence this process. Although we’re not 100% certain how mothers do this, one possible explanation is that they transfer specific bacteria to their offspring.”
The researchers plan to continue studying how gut microbial health affects other aspects of primate development in order to find a link between infant gut microbes and early-life maternal effects on health, reproduction, and survival.
“These early life changes might have far-reaching consequences — impacting the health and survival of these offspring once they become adults,” said Noah Snyder-Mackler, Arizona State biologist and co-lead researcher.
— Edited by Viyang Hao ’26