A sparse covarying unit that describes healthy and impaired human gut microbiota development.Science 2019; 365(6449)Sci
Characterizing the organization of the human gut microbiota is a formidable challenge given the number of possible interactions between its components. Using a statistical approach initially applied to financial markets, we measured temporally conserved covariance among bacterial taxa in the microbiota of healthy members of a Bangladeshi birth cohort sampled from 1 to 60 months of age. The results revealed an "ecogroup" of 15 covarying bacterial taxa that provide a concise description of microbiota development in healthy children from this and other low-income countries, and a means for monitoring community repair in undernourished children treated with therapeutic foods. Features of ecogroup population dynamics were recapitulated in gnotobiotic piglets as they transitioned from exclusive milk feeding to a fully weaned state consuming a representative Bangladeshi diet.