A microbiota diversity decline may be linked to the increase in the past several decades of immunological and metabolic diseases such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and obesity, said Maria Dominguez-Bello, a professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Centre.
The researchers analysed microbial samples from 34 of the 54 Yanomami villagers.
They were compared to a United States group, another Venezuelan Amazonian indigenous people, the Guahibo, and residents of rural Malawi in southern Africa.
Yanomami were found to have twice the number of microbe varieties of the US subjects and 30 to 40 per cent more diversity than the Malawians and Guahibo.
Some of the bacteria found in the Yanomami, but not in the others, offer beneficial effects like protecting against kidney stones.
The Yanomami are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers in their remote mountainous region.
“It really is a unique opportunity to contact communities with this ancient lifestyle,” said Oscar Noya, a researcher with the Amazonic Centre for Research and Control of Tropical Diseases in Venezuela who visited the villagers.