From Caltech: “A Home for the Microbiome”

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Caltech biologists identify, for the first time, a mechanism by which beneficial bacteria reside and thrive in the gastrointestinal tract

08/18/2013
Katie Neith

“The human body is full of tiny microorganisms—hundreds to thousands of species of bacteria collectively called the microbiome, which are believed to contribute to a healthy existence. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract—and the colon in particular—is home to the largest concentration and highest diversity of bacterial species. But how do these organisms persist and thrive in a system that is constantly in flux due to foods and fluids moving through it? A team led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologist Sarkis Mazmanian believes it has found the answer, at least in one common group of bacteria: a set of genes that promotes stable microbial colonization of the gut.

gut
A section of mouse colon is shown with gut bacteria (outlined in yellow) residing within the crypt channel.Credit: Caltech / Mazmanian Lab

A study describing the researchers’ findings was published as an advance online publication of the journal Nature on August 18.

‘By understanding how these microbes colonize, we may someday be able to devise ways to correct for abnormal changes in bacterial communities—changes that are thought to be connected to disorders like obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and autism,’ says Mazmanian, a professor of biology at Caltech whose work explores the link between human gut bacteria and health.”

See the full article here.

The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”
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