The teamwork of microorganisms is more important for humans than the presence of specific bacteria.
Much research into the gut microbiome and its effects on the host macroorganism has focused on specific types of microorganisms. The work, published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, shows that it is more important to consider the group work of the entire microflora.
A group of American scientists conducted a study to compare how the intestinal microflora differs from person to person and how much its functions differ in different organisms. For this, sequencing of the genome of microorganisms was carried out, selected from 502 pairs of British twins.
It was found that in people who are not related by kinship, the share of common metabolic pathways is almost twice the percentage of common types of microorganisms - 82% versus 43%. This suggests that unrelated populations of microorganisms are likely to perform the same functions in the intestine.
The researchers then set about studying metabolites (products of biochemical reactions) that are representative of both human and microbial metabolism. A total of 673 blood metabolites and 713 metabolites found in the intestine were studied. Scientists wanted to understand whether the abundance of individual substances is associated with the presence of a particular type of microorganism, or with the functions performed by a "team" of several different types of microbes.
As it turns out, microbial teamwork has a greater impact on the biochemistry of the body than any specific bacterial species. Metabolic pathways associated with 95% of fecal metabolites and 34% of blood metabolites have been found. At the same time, microbial communities showed 18 thousand significant associations with metabolic products, while individual microorganisms - only about 3000.
“Our research shows that future treatments to improve human health should focus on microbial groups and their functions, rather than specific types of microbes,” commented one of its authors, Mario Falki. - The intestinal microflora plays an important role in human health and its composition is associated with many diseases. We can alter the microbial makeup of the gut through diet, lifestyle, prebiotics and probiotics, and even fecal transplants.”
By the way, the microflora of dogs turned out to be more similar to humans than to the microflora of other common animals - mice and pigs. And the diversity of the gut microbiome slows down aging - at least in fish.