Gut Bacteria Adapt Their Behavior Depending on Where They Reside, Mouse Study Suggests

Gut Bacteria Adapt Their Behavior Depending on Where They Reside, Mouse Study Suggests
Bacteroides fragilis, bacteria known for their protective role in the gut, change their gene activity and behavior according to where in the gut they reside, a study in mice has found. These findings suggest that understanding the mechanisms that allow bacteria to set up residency in a specific location in the gut may help develop strategies that promote those that benefit the gut while halting those that promote chronic conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study, “Spatially distinct physiology of Bacteroides fragilis within the proximal colon of gnotobiotic mice,” was published in the journal Nature Microbiology. The mammalian gut harbors bacteria, fungi, and viruses (collectively known as the gut microbiome) which perform key functions, including assisting in digestion and protecting the gut from harmful pathogens. However, the bacterial composition varies along the entire length of the gut, and it is still unknown whether bacteria behave differently based on their location. In the study, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and colleagues at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard explored how Bacteroides fragilis (B. fragilis) — bacteria commonly found in the gut — change their behavior according to their location. Previous studies have shown that B. fragilis produces protective molecules that halt the development of IBD. B. fragilis is mostly present in the internal part of gut called the lumen, yet some of these bacteria have been found living within the surface lining that covers the gut, or the intestinal epithelia. These scarce colonies are covered by mucus that protects them from antibiotics. This finding led scientists to think that these colonies were responsible for re-populating t
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