It is currently estimated that the number of bacterial cells in our body roughly matches or exceeds the number of human cells, with the majority of these bacteria residing in the gut (Sender, et. al 2016). You may be familiar with literature identifying a “gut-brain” axis, i.e. a relationship between mental health and the composition of our microbiota. Studies have shown correlations between bacterial community makeup and disorders such as autism, depression and schizophrenia (Foster & Neufield 2013), (Dickerson, et. al 2017). Bacterial disbalance has also been correlated with diseases such as diabetes and obesity (Hartstra, et. al. 2014). A common factor between these disorders is that they are generally associated with lower microbial diversity. While there is a growing body of literature supporting the relationships between disease and dysbiosis, a perturbation of the microbial community, little research has explored the relationships between personality and patterns in variation of the healthy microbiome.
Personality, according to the American Psychological Association, refers to “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving’. In short, it’s what makes us us, what makes me different from you. It shapes how we process and understand our individual lives and all the nuances they bring, and in turn those experiences also shape our personality.
Personality. All individuals have one. Yet, what actually contributes to individuality? Although seemingly simple, personality frustrates evolutionary biologists due to its complex and convoluted nature. It is well established that personality can have important evolutionary implications (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but determining a method to test the genetic underpinnings of personality has proven difficult. Continue reading “Inheritance of personality: How much do genes matter?”