Gut microbiome changes in sync with food intake pattern

Gut microbiome is the consortium of microorganisms that inhabit the mucous membrane lining the large and small intestines, and is responsible for many body functions such as digestion of food and regulation of overall intestinal health. A recent study reported in the New York Times (Link) reveals that the gut microbiome of a population in Africa varies with seasons, as they consume different kinds of food in different seasons.


By analysing the stool samples from the study population in Africa, and comparing it with a Western population that consumes a Western diet in Italy, the study reveals that the gut microbiome of the native population in Africa comprises many species of microbes not present in the microbiome of the study population in Italy. More importantly, as the study population in Africa consumes different types of food in different seasons, the gut microbiome was also found to vary with seasons. This observation has been speculated to be due to the effect of different types of food on the composition of the gut microbiome. Thus, given the knowledge that food intake changes could modulate the composition of a gut microbiome within one or two days, the study reveals that seasonal changes in food intake pattern could also bring about a drastic change in gut microbiome.


Taken together, the effect of food intake plays a critical role in determining the microbial community structure in gut microbiome as different types of food requires different metabolic pathways for efficient digestion. Thus, specific microbes in the microbiome would possess the necessary metabolic capability for digesting particular types of food. With changes in food intake, certain species of microbes would be better able to digest the food, which leads to increase in population and a domination of the microbial community structure. On the other hand, microbes unable to metabolize the new types of food efficiently would not have the necessary energy for biomass formation and population growth, which would lead to a decline in their relative abundance in the community.


Category: biochemistry, microbiome, microbiology, cell biology,

Tags: gut microbiome, food intake, seasonal changes, metabolic pathways, digestion, growth, microbial community structure,



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