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On the trail of mucus-eaters in the gut
Date:3/5/2013

This press release is available in German.

The microbiology team of David Berry, Alexander Loy and Michael Wagner from the Faculty of Life Sciences, in collaboration with scientists at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna) and with the help of NanoSIMS technology, has for the first time succeeded in directly observing microorganisms feeding on the intestinal mucosa. The results of this research project appear in the current issue of the prestigious journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS).

To understand the research project by Michael Wagner and his team, one must be ready to follow the microbiologists into the depths of mouse intestine. Michael Wagner, Professor for Microbial Ecology, provides this analogy: "Much like cows grazing in a meadow, intestinal bacteria can feed on mucus secreted by the mucosal tissue. There are a group of microorganisms that do not nourish themselves from mouse food, but rather are specialized in feeding on the secreted products of their host." The intestinal mucus layer is a vital barrier to block pathogenic microorganisms from entering the body and also plays a major role in inflammatory bowel disease. That is why scientists are very interested to know which bacteria inhabit the mucus layer in healthy organisms and thus may suppress the colonization and degradation of this barrier by pathogens.

Cooperation: Department of Microbial Ecology and Max F. Perutz Laboratories

The team led by Michael Wagner and Alexander Loy wanted to know as part of their activities supported by the Austrian Genome Research Program GEN-AU: Which organisms in healthy mice consider the mucosa and intestinal mucus layer a delicacy? "We've come up with an experimental setup that allows us for the first time to look into the intestin
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Contact: Michael Wagner
wagner@microbial-ecology.net
43-142-775-4390
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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