Good Gut Health May Depend on a Few Good Microbes

Good Gut Health May Depend on a Few Good Microbes
In a recent study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, a team of researchers from the University of Oregon (UO) discovered that strength in numbers does not hold true for intestinal microbes, and that, in fact, a minority population of the right type might hold the key to regulating a good health. An implicit assumption of microbiome profiling for diagnostic purposes is that the proportional representation of different taxa determine host phenotypes. To test this hypothesis, in the study titled “Individual Members of the Microbiota Disproportionately Modulate Host Innate Immune Responses,” Annah S. Rolig, study lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in the UO's Institute of Molecular Biology, and colleagues colonized gnotobiotic zebrafish (zebrafish that are either germ-free or have only certain strains of microorganisms) with zebrafish-derived bacterial isolates. They then measured bacterial abundance and host neutrophil immune response. The team reported that one particular bacterial species, called Vibrio, drew numerous neutrophils, indicating a rapid inflammatory response. Shewanella, conversely, was found to barely trigger an immune response when inserted into a second germ-free fish. And when both species were introduced into a third germ-free fish, in a ratio of 90% Vibrio to 10% Shewanella, its inflammatory response was found to be entirely controlled by the low-abundance species. According to Dr. Rolig, the findings open a path to study the function of each bacterial species in the gut and to eventually, perhaps, predict and prevent disease. "Until now, we've only been able to capture proportional information, like you'd see displayed in a pie graph, of the makeup of various microbiota, in percentages of their abundan
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