Navigation Links
You Are What Microbes You Eat
Date:4/7/2010

Japanese guts contain seaweed-scarfing bacteria, but North American guts don't, study finds,,

WEDNESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- The trillions of microbes in the human intestinal tract that help everything from digesting food to fending off pathogens may differ from culture to culture because of variations in diet, researchers now report.

The finding stems from a study of marine microbiology by researchers in France, who identified genes in a microbe found on decomposing seaweed that enables it to consume the seaweed. When they put genetic information into an international gene-sequencing database, they found that the gene is not only present in other marine species but in a microbe that resides in the guts of people in Japan.

Yet they could find no evidence that the microbe, Bacteroides plebeius, had ever been identified in the microbiota, or community of microorganisms, in the guts of people in North America.

"Gut microbiota are shaped by our nutrition, and what energy we take up from our nutrition is shaped by gut microbiota," said study co-author Mirjam Czjzek, a group leader in the marine plants and biomolecules department at the French National Center for Scientific Research. "This clearly is an important factor to be aware of for health."

At some unknown point in history, microbes that reside in the Japanese tract probably snatched up genes from seaweed passing through the large intestine, explained Justin Sonnenburg, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Sonnenburg wrote an article accompanying the study, which is published in the April issue of Nature.

Those microbes then had an advantage over other microbes because they could digest seaweed, which helped them thrive, Sonnenburg said.

Having a microbe that is adept at digesting seaweed presumably makes the Japanese better able to extract calories from seaweed than Westerners, Czjzek said.

So does this mean sushi-loving Americans will soon acquire B. plebeius, too?

Probably not, the researchers said.

Today's food supply is far more sterile than the diets people were eating when this "lateral" gene transfer occurred, the experts said. Back then, people were probably eating seaweed that came directly from the ocean, with a higher microbe load than the nori sheets people eat today.

Overall, cleaner food and better hygiene is a good thing, responsible for dramatically reducing food-borne illness. But there might be some unintended consequences, including altering the microbiota in the intestines.

"The microbial load on the seaweed we currently eat is probably incredibly low," Sonnenburg said. "Gene transfer is probably less likely to occur in present day than it was 100 or 1,000 years ago. It's probably a very rare event."

Still, modern man isn't lacking for microbes. The human body is host to tens of trillions and possible hundreds of trillions of microbial cells -- more, in fact, than human cells. "Just by cell number, we are more microbial than we are human," Sonnenburg said.

The vast majority of the microbes are bacteria, although there are also smaller amounts of fungi and archaea, another type of single-celled organism. And most bacteria live inside the large bowel.

For the most part, it's a win-win relationship. The microbes have a safe habitat in which to grow and divide, and humans derive nutrients from the microbes and get help digesting food and fending off pathogens that can make them sick, Sonnenburg said.

"We have co-evolved with them, and they have become an integral part of our biology," he said."

Altering the microbiota can cause problems, Sonnenburg said. For instance, taking antibiotics, which knock down intestinal microbes in addition to killing harmful bugs, makes people more susceptible to salmonella, he added.

And he said that other research suggests that microbes may play a role in obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and immune system ailments.

The hyper-hygienic, highly caloric and processed foods most people in industrialized nations now eat amount to an experiment that is testing how rapidly the microbiota in the intestine can adapt, Sonnenburg said.

"We are conducting a huge experiment with an unknown outcome," he said. "Cleaning up the food we eat has had a very beneficial result in reducing food-borne disease. That can't be minimized. But there may be a cost associated with it."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on human microbiota.



SOURCES: Justin Sonnenburg, Ph.D., assistant professor, microbiology and immunology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.; Mirjam Czjzek, Ph.D., group leader, department of marine plants and biomolecules, National Center for Scientific Research, Roscoff, France; April 2010, Nature


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Moms Exposure to Microbes Lowers Allergies in Kids
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... ... the perfect set of tools for video editors that want to create the illusion of ... CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , Video editors using ProDOF can add realistic depth ... focus from one area into the next. ProDOF comes with 0.5 second, 1.0 second, ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... , ... January 21, 2017 , ... ... Redwood Family Dermatology has recently joined their multi-specialty medical group. The dermatology ... of cosmetic services. , “We’re excited to add this excellent dermatology practice to ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... ... ... New ADA Portable Motion Trek BP 300 Lift. Built for durability, this pool lift is ... be wheeled out of the way and stored when not in use. It is freestanding ... feedback from customers into specific enhancements and created a new product that is built directly ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... , ... January 20, 2017 , ... Doctor C LLC, ... attended the January ECRM trade show to continue the marketing and distribution of its ... supplement, known for providing 400 percent better absorption than traditional vitamin C supplements. At ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... FL (PRWEB) , ... January 20, 2017 , ... International ... of nutritional and bodybuilding supplements, announced it attended the January ECRM trade show in ... bodybuilder and nutritional scientist who was determined to create a line of products that ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... Conference Call and Webcast to Follow Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. ... results for the fourth quarter of 2016 on Wednesday, February 15, ... ... PM ET on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, during which management will ... other corporate activities. To participate in the conference call, please dial ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... Incretin Mimetics/GLP-1 Agonists, SNDRIs, Lipase Inhibitors, Serotonin ... global anti-obesity drugs market is expected to grow at ... period and CAGR of 38.7% in the second half of the ... of 32.8% from 2016 to 2027. The market is estimated at ... in 2027. ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... 19, 2017  Sensus Healthcare, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... in the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers and ... radiation therapy, today announced that it will report ... results on Thursday, February 2, 2017 after the market ... conference call with the investment community on Thursday, February ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: