The mammalian phenotype is largely driven by the combination of host and microbiome genes. The microbiomes of free-living organisms (including wild mice and humans) co-evolved with their respective hosts over thousands of years by natural selection creating a symbiotic host-microbe relationship integral to host physiology. The laboratory mouse microbiome evolved over much shorter periods in a sanitized and restrictive environment devoid of numerous microorganisms.
For the past several years, one of Georgia State University’s (GSU) investigators (who studies inflammation and translational immunology) has had an ongoing study concerning the “wilding” of the laboratory mouse gut microbiota. We will discuss the mechanisms of wilding utilized, the success of the mechanism realized (shift in gut microbiota and immune phenotype), applications of the model, as well as challenges along the way.