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Researchers map minority microbes in the colon
Date:8/2/2011

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They make up less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the microbes that live in the colon, but the bacteria and archaea that sop up hydrogen in the gut are fundamental to colon health. In a new study, researchers take a first look at these "hydrogenotrophic" microbes, mapping where they live and how abundant they are in different parts of the lower intestine.

The findings are reported in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal.

This is the first study to sample these or any other microbes at specific locales in the colon, said University of Illinois animal sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Rex Gaskins, who led the research with Carle Foundation gastroenterologist Dr. Eugene Greenberg. These organisms are particularly difficult to get at because they inhabit a thick layer of protective mucous that lines the colon. Previous studies looked only at microbes passed in stool, Gaskins said.

"With those methods, the less abundant taxa were often undetected," he said. "Little was known about their ecology, or the extent to which the mucosa is colonized and what kind of variation exists."

This is also the first study to compare the diversity and abundance of colonic microbes in multiple (in this case 25) healthy individuals, he said.

Scientists have known for decades that various microbes in the colon collaborate to ferment undigested food and degrade and dispose of the byproducts of fermentation. (M.P. Bryant, who was an animals sciences professor at Illinois, discovered the first hydrogen-based symbiotic relationship among microbes of the gut in
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Contact: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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