Genome analysis will reveal how bacteria in our guts make themselves at home

Jun 30, 2011

Researchers from the Institute of Food Research and The Genome Analysis Centre have published the genome sequence of a gut bacterium, to help understand how these organisms evolved their symbiotic relationships with their hosts.

The relationship between and the is one of IFR's main research areas. Key to understanding the role of bacteria in establishing and maintaining gut health is knowledge of how the very close relationship between the bacteria and their hosts has evolved to be mutually beneficial to both.

One , Lactobacillus reuteri, has been used as a model for studies in this area, and TGAC, a partner of IFR on the Norwich Research Park, has sequenced its genome, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The collaboration between the two institutes will provide new insights into the genomic basis for host adaptation of L. reuteri to the gut.

L. reuteri inhabits the gastrointestinal tract from a large host range, from humans to rodents and birds. Previous work had shown that each has its own subpopulation of L. reuteri strains. These strains differ slightly, and are host specific, and the differences between them are driven by evolutionary pressures from the host.

In close collaboration with IFR scientists, TGAC sequenced and assembled the genome of a L. reuteri strain obtained from pig to a high quality draft standard and also provided a full annotation. The annotation is needed to identify which genes carry out which functions in the sequence. Comparisons between different strains of L. reuteri, which have already been made available in the major international sequence databases, helped identify a set of genes unique to this particular strain.

The IFR and TGAC researchers are now hoping to use this information to elucidate exactly what it is that restricts certain L. reuteri strains to specific hosts.

L. reuteri confers certain health benefits, and has a role in modulating the immune system. A greater understanding of how L. reuteri host adaptation will help in efforts to exploit these health benefits, for example in the production of new probiotics.

The gastrointestinal tract contains many millions of bacteria, known collectively as the microbiota. IFR is also developing a model microbiota that is representative of the human colonic microbiota. This will become a powerful tool for investigating the function and interplay of the microbiota within the gastrointestinal system. It will also become an integral part of studies investigating the extent, diversity and function of metabolic diversity in the microbiota.

Explore further: Free the seed: OSSI nurtures growing plants without patent barriers

More information: Genome sequence of a vertebrate gut symbiont Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 53608, Heavens et al, Journal of Bacteriology doi:10.1128/JB.05282-11

Provided by Norwich BioScience Institutes

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A sticky solution for identifying effective probiotics

Nov 24, 2009

Scientists have crystallised a protein that may help gut bacteria bind to the gastrointestinal tract. The protein could be used by probiotic producers to identify strains that are likely to be of real benefit to people.

Bacteria help infants digest milk more effectively than adults

Nov 22, 2010

Infants are more efficient at digesting and utilizing nutritional components of milk than adults due to a difference in the strains of bacteria that dominate their digestive tracts. Researchers from the University of California, ...

Gut bacteria can control organ functions

Feb 28, 2011

Bacteria in the human gut may not just be helping digest food but also could be exerting some level of control over the metabolic functions of other organs, like the liver, according to research published this week in the ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.