Pastobiome project

We could recently show that the intestinal microbiota is changed in stunted children, and displays a specific microbial signature likely responsible for the observed dysbiosis. However, we don’t know if the observed signatures are conserved in regions where the diet consists of different staple foods or if they are specific to each context (“global vs. regional microbiota changes”) and if it is conserved in different forms of undernutrition. 

We are addressing these questions in the Pastobiome project, analyzing the microbiota of pastoralist children in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. The Pastobiome project is conducted in collaboration with the Jigjiga One Health Initiative (JOHI), a joint initiative of the Jigjiga University, the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia as well as the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. The project is located in Adadle Woreda, in the Somali Region of Ethiopia.

The Pastobiome project aims at characterizing the pathophysiological changes observed within the gut ecosystem of nomadic pastoralist children living in South Ethiopia including the carriage of antimicrobial resistance genes. The study is unique in several ways: first, pastoralists are rarely included in health surveys and as a consequence, we no virtually nothing about their microbiota. Also, their diet is largely milk-based and therefore different to the starch-rich diet of sedentary communities, where most other studies on undernutrition have been performed so far. The Pastobiome study will thus give us valuable insights into the pathophysiological mechanisms of the gut ecosystem underlying different forms of undernutrition and will help in the long-term to develop global intervention strategies to tackle this pressing global health problem.

Link to collaborators at the Swiss TPH & Jigjiga University, Ethiopia

Village in the Addle region, Somali Regional State, Ethiopia (Foto: Pascale Vonaesch)
Camel market, Somali Regional State, Ethiopia (Foto: Pascale Vonaesch)