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PROEUHEALTH - The Food, GI-tract Functionality and Human Health Cluster

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Consumer Platform > MICROBE DIAGNOSTICS
Development and application of high throughput molecular methods for studying the human gut microbiota in relation to diet and health

"Which bacterium is which?" or "Will the good bacteria please stand up!"

Imagine yourself standing in the Serengeti National Park in Kenya. It's easy to pick the lions from the zebra. They look fairly different after all! Unfortunately, when it comes to studying the bacterial ecosystem in the intestinal tract there are two slight problems: 1) there are no guided tours, and 2) many bacterial species tend to look pretty much the same under a microscope, and even to an experienced eye they are impossible to distinguish. The intestinal ecosystem is also very complex. We all carry around more than 400 different bacterial species in our intestines, all of which are interacting with each other, the food you eat, and importantly US. Being able to identify which bacterium is which, and what they are doing, is essential to understanding how the ecosystem works and how to manipulate it (or prevent it from being disturbed) in order to restore or maintain health.

In this project, new techniques are being developed that enable scientists to quickly identify bacteria based on their DNA (ie, their genes). These will be used to determine what bacteria are usually present in the intestines of healthy people, and how this ecosystem changes with age, diet and lifestyle. They will also be used to determine how the ecosystem differs between healthy and sick people and which bacteria are involved in chronic intestinal diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This knowledge will allow the development of therapeutic approaches involving beneficially modifying the intestinal ecosystem.

More information about the project: http://www.dife.de/dife/studien/blaut2/index.html

 

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