Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
University of British Columbia researchers have discovered the genetic machinery that turns a common gut bacterium into the Swiss Army knife of the digestive tract - helping us metabolize a main component of dietary fibre from the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.
The findings illuminate the specialized roles played by key members of the vast microbial community living in the human gut, and could inform the development of tailored microbiota transplants to improve intestinal health after antibiotic use or illness. The research is published in the journal Nature.
"While they are vital to our diet, the long chains of natural polymeric carbohydrates that make up dietary fibre are impossible for humans to digest without the aid of our resident bacteria," says UBC professor Harry Brumer, with UBC's Michael Smith Laboratories and Department of Chemistry, and senior author of the study.
"This newly discovered sequence of genes enables Bacteroides ovatus to chop up xyloglucan, a major type of dietary fibre found in many vegetables - from lettuce leaves to tomato fruits. B. ovatus and its complex system of enzymes provide a crucial part of our digestive toolkit."
About 92 per cent of the population harbours bacteria with a variant of the gene sequence, according to the researchers' survey of public genome data from 250 adult humans.
"The next question is whether other groups in the consortium of gut bacteria work in concert with, or in competition with, Bacteroides ovatus to target these, and other, complex carbohydrates," says Brumer.
Background: The bacterial communities living in the human gut - roughly 100 trillion microorganisms - account for 50 per cent of the weight of the contents of the lower digestive tract in humans. Up to 10 per cent of our daily caloric intake can come from the breakdown of dietary fibre by our gut bacteria.
Researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of York, and the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology were also involved in the study.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our GastroIntestinal / Gastroenterology category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
University of British Columbia. "A versatile gut bacterium helps us get our daily dietary fiber." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 21 Jan. 2014. Web.
12 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/271437>
University of British Columbia. (2014, January 21). "A versatile gut bacterium helps us get our daily dietary fiber." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/271437.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2014 All rights reserved. MNT (logo) is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.