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More than 100 new gut bacteria discovered in human microbiome

Researchers investigating the gut microbiome have isolated more than a hundred bacterial species that have never previously been identified.

The new resource will enable researchers to identify the bacteria residing in the intestine more accurately and more quickly than has ever been possible before and pave the way for new approaches to treating disorders, infections and immune conditions of the gut.

The gut microbiome plays a major role in human health; imbalances in the intestinal flora can contribute to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

Current techniques for culturing intestinal bacteria are hindered by the fact that many species are difficult to grow, creating a huge gap in scientists’ understanding of them.

Standard approaches to studying the impact of the gut microbiome on human health involve sequencing DNA mixtures of gut bacteria and trying to analyse the individual components. However, such approaches are hindered by a lack of individually-isolated bacteria.

Now, researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Hudson Institute of Medical Research and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, have managed to grow and sequence 737 separate strains of bacteria using fecal samples taken from 20 individuals in Canada and the UK.

As reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology, analysis of those strains identified 273 individual bacterial species, including 173 that had never been sequenced before and of those, 105 that had never been isolated before.

This new collection of reference genomes from individually isolated bacterial species will make it much easier for scientists to determine the bacteria present within communities of people and to investigate the role they play in disease.

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Posted on: February 14 2019

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