A computer model determines which species are important for a healthy microbiome

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The more diverse the species in your gut, the better for your health, but an international team of researchers led by the Hudson Institute has found a way to determine which species are important and how they interact to create a healthy microbiome.

With a new way of looking at these gut microbiome relationships, they have opened the door to a new world of medical possibilities since Inflammatory bowel disease infections, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Associate Professor Samuel Forster and his team at the Hudson Institute and Monash University, working with collaborators from the US Institute of Systems Biology and local collaborators from Monash University and Monash Health, have spent many years studying the gut microbiome and working out which species do it. helps create a healthy microbiome.

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He says it’s now possible to determine not only what species are in the gut microbiome, but also how they interact and how that can affect the whole body.

“The healthy gut contains approximately 1,000 different species of bacteria, a microscopic multicultural community with more than a trillion individual members,” said A/Prof Forster.

“Bacteria in our microbiomes exist as communities that depend on each other to produce and share key nutrients,” said A/Prof Forster. “We have developed a new computational way to understand these dependencies and their role in shaping a healthy microbiome.”

Unlocking the cure for a healthy microbiome

“This new approach sheds light on our understanding of the gut microbiome and provides the basis for new treatment options that selectively reshape microbial communities.”

For example, in Crohn’s disease, the team confirmed the importance of hydrogen sulfide. They found that the most likely cause is the decline of bacteria that use hydrogen sulfide, rather than the increase of species that produce it, as previously thought.

Research leader dr. Vanessa Marcelino says a new computational way to study gut microbial communities was crucial to making these connections.

“This is a significant step forward in the development of sophisticated treatments for gut microbes,” said Dr. Marcelino.

“This approach allows us to identify and evaluate key bacterial interactions and use this knowledge to predict targeted ways to alter the microbiome community.”

A/Prof Forster and his team has a long-standing relationship with Adelaide-based biotech company BiomeBank, which is exploring new ways to treat and prevent disease by restoring the microbial ecology of the gut.

“Through the collaboration between the Hudson Institute and BiomeBank, these insights into community structure and the healthy microbiome will enable targeted interventions with rationally selected combinations of microbes,” he said.

Link: Marcelino VR, Welsh C, Diener C, et al. A specific disease is characterized by the loss of microbial cross-feeding interactions in the human gut. Nat Comm. 2023;14(1):6546. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-42112-w

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Godfrey Kemp

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