Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beneficial microbes are 'selected and nurtured' in the human gut

Date:
November 20, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Animals, including humans, actively select the gut microbes that are the best partners and nurture them with nutritious secretions, suggests a new study.

Confocal fluorescence image of bacteria growing in the lumen on top of host epithelial cells. Sample taken from the cecum of a laboratory mouse, where there has been no intentional manipulation of the animal's microbiotia. Epithelial and bacterial cells in green (DNA stained with Sytox green), and the epithelial border brush in blue (actin stained with Alexa-647-phalloidin) from [83].
Credit: Jonas Schluter, Kevin R. Foster. The Evolution of Mutualism in Gut Microbiota Via Host Epithelial Selection. PLoS Biology, 2012; 10 (11): e1001424 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001424

Animals, including humans, actively select the gut microbes that are the best partners and nurture them with nutritious secretions, suggests a new study led by Oxford University, and published November 20 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.

The Oxford team created an evolutionary computer model of interactions between gut microbes and the lining (the host epithelial cell layer) of the animal gut. The model shows that beneficial microbes that are slow-growing are rapidly lost, and need to be helped by host secretions, such as specific nutrients, that favour the beneficial microbes over harmful ones.

The work also shows that the cost of such selectivity is low: the host only needs to use a very small amount of secretions to retain beneficial microbes that would otherwise have been lost.

"The cells of our bodies are greatly outnumbered by the microbes that live on us and, in particular, in our gut," said Professor Kevin Foster of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, an author of the new paper. "We know that many gut microbes are highly beneficial to us, protecting us from pathogens and helping us with digestion, but quite how such a beneficial mutual relationship evolved, and how it is maintained, has been something of a mystery."

"This research highlights the importance of growth-promoting substances in our ability to control the microbes that live inside us. It shows that nutrients are more powerful when released by the host epithelial cell layer than when coming from the food in the gut, and suggests that controlling our microbes is easier than was previously thought."

Jonas Schulter, also of Oxford University's Department of Zoology and first author of the paper, said: "The inside of our gut is rather like a war zone, with all kinds of microbes battling it out for survival and fighting over territory. Our study shows that hosts only have to secrete a small quantity of substances that slightly favour beneficial microbes to tip the balance of this conflict: it means that favoured microbial species that would otherwise be lost don't just survive on the epithelial surface but expand, pushing any other strains out."

The team's simulations show that cells affected by host epithelial selection are least likely to be lost, and instead persist longest, causing 'selectivity amplification', whereby relatively tiny changes instituted by the host (in this case a very small amount of secretions of certain compounds) can be amplified to produce a large-scale effect.

The study may have wider implications than the human gut: selectivity amplification may occur in a range of other interactions between hosts and microbes, including the microbes that grow on the surface of corals and the roots of plants.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonas Schluter, Kevin R. Foster. The Evolution of Mutualism in Gut Microbiota Via Host Epithelial Selection. PLoS Biology, 2012; 10 (11): e1001424 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001424

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Beneficial microbes are 'selected and nurtured' in the human gut." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120193531.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, November 20). Beneficial microbes are 'selected and nurtured' in the human gut. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120193531.htm
Public Library of Science. "Beneficial microbes are 'selected and nurtured' in the human gut." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120193531.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins