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More than just bacteria: The importance of microbial diversity in gut health and disease
Date:3/9/2014

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 predatorprey 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
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Contact: Aimee Frank
afrank@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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