Microbes do vital work in human gut

Metagenomic analysis shows bacteria, Archaea perform several crucial functions in human metabolism

Tabitha M. Powledge
Jun 1, 2006
Bacteria and Archaea service their human hosts by handling a variety of gut functions, such as metabolizing sugars and amino acids and synthesizing essential vitamins, according to a metagenomic analysis published in this week's Science."This is a really important paper that applies new technologies to delve into the fact that we're not alone, we're symbionts," Edward DeLong of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the paper, told The Scientist. "This is just a first step, but eventually we'll get a better appreciation of how our microbe population varies in health and disease."Microbial genes in the distal gut outnumber human genes by approximately 100 to 1. To investigate the role microbes play in human metabolism, the researchers used genomic techniques to study microbes in their natural environments, particularly the majority of microbes that cannot be cultured. They analyzed DNA sequences in the feces...
Jo Handelsmanmetagenomic studiesThe ScientistThe ScientistJulian DaviesThe Scientistprevious studiesJeremy NicholsonThe Scientist tpowledge@the-scientist.comClarification (posted June 5):When originally posted, the story implied that the researchers used only 16S ribosomal DNA sequences to infer metabolic activity. In fact, they used bulk DNA to infer metabolic activity.Sciencewww.sciencemag.orgPNASPM_ID: 16618931The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15764/The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14597/The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13755/GenePM_ID: 16698197Journal of BacteriologyPM_ID: 15516593SciencePM_ID: 16407106NaturePM_ID: 16625200

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