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Microbial Richness – Shannon Diversity Index

Microbial richness in the context of the gut microbiome refers to the total number of different types of microorganisms that live in your gut.1Michael Roswell, Jonathan Dushoff, and Rachael Winfree. “A Conceptual Guide to Measuring Species Diversity.” Oikos, v. 130 ,.3 pp. 321-338. doi: 10.1111/oik.07202 A higher microbial richness score means a greater variety of gut bacteria in your gut, which can contribute to better digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall physical and mental wellbeing.2Tap J, Furet JP, Bensaada M, Philippe C, Roth H, Rabot S, Lakhdari O, Lombard V, Henrissat B, Corthier G, Fontaine E, Doré J, Leclerc M. Gut microbiota richness promotes its stability upon increased dietary fibre intake in healthy adults. Environ Microbiol. 2015 Dec;17(12):4954-64. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13006.3Hou K, Wu ZX, Chen XY, Wang JQ, Zhang D, Xiao C, Zhu D, Koya JB, Wei L, Li J, Chen ZS. Microbiota in health and diseases. Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2022 Apr 23;7(1):135. doi: 10.1038/s41392-022-00974-4. Chuckling Goat scientists use the Shannon Diversity Index to calculate the microbial richness in your sample. 

What is the Shannon Diversity Index?

The Shannon Diversity Index is a mathematical formula that helps scientists evaluate the diversity of microorganisms in an ecosystem, e.g. your gut. The analysis is performed by analysing the stool sample you’ve provided for your Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Test. In plain English, the Shannon Diversity Index is akin to a scoring system that looks at two critical factors:

  1. the number of different types of bacteria in your gut, and
  2. how evenly these bacteria are distributed.

What does the richness score mean?

If your richness score is high, it means that your gut microbiome is balanced with different kinds of microorganisms living in it. A diverse and balanced ecosystem is generally linked to good health, as it supports digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and protection against harmful pathogens. On the other hand, a lower richness score is a sign of a less diverse gut microbiome with fewer types of microorganisms. Reduced richness contributes to reduced diversity, which is associated with various health issues, such as obesity, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal diseases.4Koh JH, Lee EH, Cha KH, Pan CH, Kim D, Kim WU. Factors associated with the composition of the gut microbiome in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis and its value for predicting treatment responses. Arthritis Res Ther. 2023 Mar 2;25(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s13075-023-03013-x.5Choroszy M, Litwinowicz K, Bednarz R, Roleder T, Lerman A, Toya T, Kamiński K, Sawicka-Śmiarowska E, Niemira M, Sobieszczańska B. Human Gut Microbiota in Coronary Artery Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Metabolites. 2022 Nov 23;12(12):1165. doi: 10.3390/metabo12121165.6Watts AM, West NP, Zhang P, Smith PK, Cripps AW, Cox AJ. The Gut Microbiome of Adults with Allergic Rhinitis Is Characterised by Reduced Diversity and an Altered Abundance of Key Microbial Taxa Compared to Controls. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2021;182(2):94-105. doi: 10.1159/000510536.

In summary, the Shannon Diversity Index is a tool that helps scientists measure the richness of microbes in a sample. In the context of gut health, Shannon Diversity helps you understand the complexity and balance of your gut microbiome, providing valuable insights into your health and wellbeing. At Chuckling Goat, our scientists combine your richness score with an evenness score using another tool known as the Simpson Diversity Index. This combination allows for more precision when calculating the overall diversity of your gut microbiome. Learn about microbial evenness here, or head to the microbial diversity handbook page to learn about the diversity score.

Where to find the richness score in the Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Test

You will find your richness score in the “Diversity” report in your Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Test results. Your richness score is combined with your evenness score to calculate your overall diversity score. Understanding microbial diversity is fundamental to learning about the community structure, biology and ecology of your gut microbiome. Your anonymised richness score allows our team of scientists to further the research on the relationship between your food and lifestyle choices, your gut microbes and your resilience to disease.

Synonyms: microbiota richness, microbial richness, microbiome diversity, microbial community diversity, biodiversity of microorganisms, microbial species diversity, Shannon diversity, Shannon richness

Important disclaimer

The Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Handbook is an educational resource built to translate complex science into plain English. The information provided on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Always check with your GP for interactions with medications/health conditions before changing your diet or starting to take food supplements.

Important disclaimer

The Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Handbook is an educational resource built to translate complex science into plain English. The information provided on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Always check with your GP for interactions with medications/health conditions before changing your diet or starting to take food supplements.

References

  • 1
    Michael Roswell, Jonathan Dushoff, and Rachael Winfree. “A Conceptual Guide to Measuring Species Diversity.” Oikos, v. 130 ,.3 pp. 321-338. doi: 10.1111/oik.07202
  • 2
    Tap J, Furet JP, Bensaada M, Philippe C, Roth H, Rabot S, Lakhdari O, Lombard V, Henrissat B, Corthier G, Fontaine E, Doré J, Leclerc M. Gut microbiota richness promotes its stability upon increased dietary fibre intake in healthy adults. Environ Microbiol. 2015 Dec;17(12):4954-64. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13006.
  • 3
    Hou K, Wu ZX, Chen XY, Wang JQ, Zhang D, Xiao C, Zhu D, Koya JB, Wei L, Li J, Chen ZS. Microbiota in health and diseases. Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2022 Apr 23;7(1):135. doi: 10.1038/s41392-022-00974-4.
  • 4
    Koh JH, Lee EH, Cha KH, Pan CH, Kim D, Kim WU. Factors associated with the composition of the gut microbiome in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis and its value for predicting treatment responses. Arthritis Res Ther. 2023 Mar 2;25(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s13075-023-03013-x.
  • 5
    Choroszy M, Litwinowicz K, Bednarz R, Roleder T, Lerman A, Toya T, Kamiński K, Sawicka-Śmiarowska E, Niemira M, Sobieszczańska B. Human Gut Microbiota in Coronary Artery Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Metabolites. 2022 Nov 23;12(12):1165. doi: 10.3390/metabo12121165.
  • 6
    Watts AM, West NP, Zhang P, Smith PK, Cripps AW, Cox AJ. The Gut Microbiome of Adults with Allergic Rhinitis Is Characterised by Reduced Diversity and an Altered Abundance of Key Microbial Taxa Compared to Controls. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2021;182(2):94-105. doi: 10.1159/000510536.

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