Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More than just bacteria: Importance of microbial diversity in gut health, disease

Date:
March 10, 2014
Source:
American Gastroenterological Association
Summary:
The gut microbiota contains a vast number of microorganisms from all three domains of life, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, as well as viruses. These interact in a complex way to contribute towards both health and the development of disease -- interactions that are only now being elucidated thanks to the application of advanced DNA sequencing technology in this field.

The gut microbiota contains a vast number of microorganisms from all three domains of life, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, as well as viruses. These interact in a complex way to contribute towards both health and the development of disease -- interactions that are only now being elucidated thanks to the application of advanced DNA sequencing technology in this field.

Related Articles


"Using novel metagenomic approaches, scientists are at last beginning to characterize the taxonomic abundance and community relationships not only of bacteria, but also the other microbes that inhabit the gut environment,"1 says Professor Gary Wu, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. "This exciting work is bringing us one step closer to understanding the importance of microbial diversity in intestinal health and disease and could ultimately lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal (GI) disease."

His talk was one of the topics presented at the Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit in Miami, FL, USA. On March 8-9, 2014, internationally leading experts discussed the latest advances in gut microbiota research and its impact on health.

The microorganisms that inhabit the gut can be broadly divided into prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea), bacteriophages (viruses that infect prokaryotes), eukaryotic viruses, and the meiofauna (microscopically small benthic invertebrates that live in both marine and fresh water environments -- primarily fungi and protozoa).1 Of these, bacteria have been the most extensively studied. The gastrointestinal tract is now considered one of the most complex microbial ecosystems on earth and understanding how the multiple communities interact presents both opportunities and challenges.

"We have known for some time that the bacteria in the gut play an important role in both health and disease," says Prof. Wu. "It is also now becoming clear that the non-bacterial microbiota interacts in a complex way with the bacterial microbiota to contribute to these processes."

Viruses in the gut

The most common viruses in the gut are the bacteriophages. These rapidly-evolving viruses can outnumber bacteria by a factor of 10 to one; they infect and destroy bacterial cells and have the ability to transfer genetic material from one bacterium to another, with potentially profound implications for GI health and disease.

"There is a predator-prey relationship between bacteriophages and bacteria that may play a role in altering the bacterial microbiota in conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)," says Prof. Wu. "The fact that bacteriophages induce immune responses in bacteria and may also transmit genomic material into bacteria that may alter their function makes these viruses extremely important and we need to know much more about them."

Meiofauna in the microbiota

DNA sequencing techniques have also confirmed the presence of commensal meiofauna in the GI tract that may be important in promoting health and disease.1 Certain types of meiofauna (e.g. helminths and Blastocystis) are thought to protect against IBD by suppressing inflammation, and others believe that increased fungal diversity may contribute to GI diseases, including IBD.

"Decreases in fungal diversity have been shown to correlate with an increase in healthy bacterial colonisation following probiotic therapy, suggesting niche competition between fungi and bacteria," says Prof. Wu. "This effect is also evident in the development of mucosal Candida infection following antibiotic treatment."

Non-bacterial microbes and the future

Prof. Wu and others believe that the importance of trans-domain interactions in health and disease are only just beginning to emerge. By studying the complex relationships between bacterial and non-bacterial microbes in the gut, it is hoped that a greater understanding of pathogenic mechanisms will be gained, leading ultimately to novel approaches to diagnosis and treatment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Gastroenterological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jason M. Norman, Scott A. Handley, Herbert W. Virgin. Kingdom-agnostic Metagenomics and the Importance of Complete Characterization of Enteric Microbial Communities. Gastroenterology, 2014; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2014.02.001

Cite This Page:

American Gastroenterological Association. "More than just bacteria: Importance of microbial diversity in gut health, disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310090919.htm>.
American Gastroenterological Association. (2014, March 10). More than just bacteria: Importance of microbial diversity in gut health, disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310090919.htm
American Gastroenterological Association. "More than just bacteria: Importance of microbial diversity in gut health, disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310090919.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Adults Only Get The Flu Twice A Decade, Researchers Say

Adults Only Get The Flu Twice A Decade, Researchers Say

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) Researchers found adults only get the flu about once every five years. Scientists analyzed how a person&apos;s immunity builds up over time as well. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) A newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise, protecting against diabetes and weight gain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mount Everest Has a Poop Problem

Mount Everest Has a Poop Problem

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) With no bathrooms to use, climbers of Mount Everest have been leaving human waste on the mountain for years, and it&apos;s becoming a health issue. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Tips to 'Skinny' Your Home

The Best Tips to 'Skinny' Your Home

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) If you&apos;re looking to reach your health goals this season, there are a few simple tips to help you spring clean your space and improve your nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the skinny on keeping a healthy home. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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