Researchers have identified and isolated more than 100 new bacterial species present in the gut microbiome in an analysis of fecal samples taken from individuals in Europe and North America, according to research published in Nature Biotechnology.
Lead author Samuel Forster, BSc, BIS, BBiomedSc(Hons), PhD, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Australia, said in a press release that their findings will make up a new collection of intestinal bacteria — known as the Human Gastrointestinal Bacteria Culture Collection — that will help guide research on the gut microbiome and its impact on disease.
“This study has led to the creation of the largest and most comprehensive public database of human health-associated intestinal bacteria,” he said in the release. “The gut microbiome plays a major [role] in health and disease. This important resource will fundamentally change the way researchers study the microbiome.”
Researchers studied fecal samples collected from 20 individuals from the United Kingdom and Canada who had not taken antibiotics within the last six months. They defined bacterial species based on a 16S rRNA gene sequence identity threshold of more than 97.8%.
Over the course of the study, investigators grew and sequenced DNA from 737 individual bacterial strains. Their analysis of the isolates revealed 273 separated bacterial species, which included 173 that had never been sequenced before. Of those, 105 species had never been isolated.
Researchers identified more than 100 new bacterial strains found in the gut microbiome.
Researchers said the new collection and reference genomes will make it easier to dig deeper on microbiome, which had previously been limited by the lack of information on these strains.
“For researchers trying to find out which species of bacteria are present in a person's microbiome, the database of reference genomes from pure isolates of gut bacteria is crucial,” Rob Finn, BSc, PhD, of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, said in the release. “Then if they want to test a hypothesis, for example that a particular species is enriched in a certain disease, they can get the isolate itself from the collection and physically test in the laboratory if this species seems to be important."
Trevor Lawley, PhD, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute said the collection would be a “game-changer” for basic and translational microbiome research.
“By culturing the unculturable, we have created a resource that will make microbiome analysis faster, cheaper and more accurate and will allow further study of their biology and functions,” he said in the release. “Ultimately, this will lead us towards developing new diagnostics and treatments for diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, infections and immune conditions.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: Forster, Finn and Lawley are either employees of or consultants to Micrbobiotica Pty Ltd. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.