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Our microbes, ourselves
Date:1/19/2009

hose Center for Environmental Biotechnology uses its expertise to examine microbial populations important for cleaning up pollutants and generating renewable bioenergy. Rittmann invited Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, to collaborate and apply her microbial ecology expertise to this project. The three researchers were able to leverage seed funding from the Mayo Clinic and ASU so that they could combine their respective talents. DiBaise recruited 9 middle-aged volunteers in three groupsnormal weight, morbidly obese and following gastric bypass surgeryto participate in the study.

The research team's central hypothesis is that differing microbial populations in the gut allow the body to harvest more energy, making people more susceptible to developing obesity. These small differences can, over time, profoundly affect an individual's weight. Supporting this view is the study's confirmation that the microbial composition among obese patients appears significantly altered compared with both normal weight individuals and those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery.

A microbial managerie

To tease out the microbial human gut composition, Husen Zhang, a postdoctoral scholar working with Rittmann and Krajmalnik-Brown, used an advanced DNA sequencing technology and sophisticated ecological tools. The team examined 184,094 gene sequences of microbial 16S rRNA, a molecular structure which provides a characteristic fingerprint for microbial identification. The analysis was conducted with the assistance of University of Arizona's Rod Wing at the Bio5 Institute, using a novel sequencing technique known as 454-pyrosequencing, which allows a significantly larger number and greater diversity of gut microbia to be identified.

The group's latest findings represent the first investigation of gut microbiota from post-gastric-bypass patients to date.

By examining a specific region of the 16S
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Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
joseph.caspermeyer@asu.edu
480-313-2010
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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