PLoS Biology: How Bacteria Turn Fiber into Food

“Now, a new study by Eric Martens, David Bolam, and colleagues has looked into how a pair of the most common species of gut bacteria metabolize polysaccharides, showing that each bacterium is highly specialized. Using a high-throughput system for feeding the bacteria dozens of kinds of carbohydrates, one at a time, and tracking the bacteria’s gene expression, they were able to see how these microbes have tailored themselves to fill specific niches in the gut.”

This is a really good study. For me, a better understanding of the gut metabolic ecology will allow for the development of better probiotics. One interesting finding in this study is that some bug don’t grow well on simple sugar because their sensors are built for complex sugars. Made me think of folks in developed world and what effect eating more simple sugars (high-fructose corn syrup) has on gut flora and any consequential obesity.

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