Caltech researchers say they have put their finger on the reason why some of the bacteria and other friendly critters thrive in a person's intestines, and why others don't.
Writing in an advance copy of the science journal "Nature," Caltech biologist Sarkis Mazmanian said he has discovered that some microbes have special genes that promote stable microbial colonization of the gut.
Scientists have known for generations that beneficial microscopic creatures thrive in the intestines, and digestion is impossible without them. Hundreds of thousands of different varieties of microbes make up the microbiome.
Mazmanian's team has been addressing why some microbes survive attacks from other microbes in the intestines. "By understanding how these microbes colonize, we may someday be able to devise ways to correct for abnormal changes in bacterial communities .. connected ti disorders like obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and autism," he said.
Using mice and microbes, the scientists discovered that part of the host tissue -- the human animal -- hosts pockets of microbes. They called these small areas of the colon "crypts."
Marmanzian said scientists have only begun to explore the colon crypts, and the critters contained there.
"This research highlights the notion that we are not alone," he said. "We knew that bacteria are in our gut, but this study shows that specific microbes are very intimately associated with out bodies.
"They are part of us."
--City News Service