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Gut Bacteria Falls Into Three Major Types
Date:4/21/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Just like eye color or blood type, the bacteria that flourish in the gut can also be used to categorize humans, new research finds.

European researchers have determined that there are three distinct types of microscopic ecosystems that exist in the human intestine. What differentiates each type is which species of microbes are present and which are the most abundant, researchers said.

Although there's far more to learn about what those microbes do, researchers say your bacterial type may tell a whole lot about you, including how you metabolize food, how you synthesize vitamins and how you might respond to certain medications.

"We think humans can be categorized based on the micro-composition in their gut," said study co-author Manimozhiyan Arumugam, a research scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. "We also have reasons to believe these are not specific to any continent, country, ethnicity or any other obvious factor."

The human gut is host to an estimated 500 to 1,000 species of bacteria, Arumugam said. Those species compete and cooperate with each other in microscopic ecosystems that remain relatively stable in a balanced, symbiotic relationship with the host -- the human body.

"They are not working alone, they have to work as a community," Arumugam said. "And they have to adapt to the host, such as what we eat."

In the study, published in the April 20 issue of Nature, researchers took stool samples of 22 people from four European countries (Denmark, France, Italy and Spain), extracted the DNA and determined which species of bacteria resided there. They combined their data with the results of earlier data on the gut microbes of 13 people from Japan and two Americans. They then added data from another 85 Danish people and 154 Americans.

Their analysis showed t
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