Chapter 2 : The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health

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Although microbes are everywhere and, in theory, they all may have an impact on human health, microbial diversity is so enormous that it is hardly possible to describe all of them. This chapter focuses on the microbes residing in gastrointestinal (GI) tract that are collectively termed the microbiota, since these have the most intimate interaction with human body and, therefore, have a prominent impact on human health. It has been observed that the predominant bacterial composition in feces of healthy adult individuals is relatively stable over time. In contrast to healthy adults, however, severely disturbed and/or unstable fecal microbiotas can be correlated with humans with GI tract disorders, such as Crohn’s disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), and intestinal bowel syndrome (IBS). Bacteria related to known butyrate-producing bacteria predominated in a live fraction, while bacteria affiliated with , , and were more abundant in dead fractions. These are important findings, since they link phylogenetic information of the GI bacteria to activity. Although metagenomic analysis has shown their power for revealing the coding potential of the microbiome, and the genome of the entire microbial ecosystem, further functional studies, such as metaproteomics, have been reported but show limitations in our predictive capacity. Hence, there is a great need to integrate all available reductionist and global, cultivation- and molecular-based approaches to finally describe and understand micro companions throughout the journey on planet Earth.

Citation: Rajilić-Stojanović M, de Vos W, Zoetendal E. 2008. The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health, p 11-32. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch2
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Citation: Rajilić-Stojanović M, de Vos W, Zoetendal E. 2008. The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health, p 11-32. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch2
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SSU rRNA-based phylogenetic tree representing the diversity of the human GI microbiota. Each phylum is presented as a distinct phylogenetic group except for the , which are presented by four phylogenetic groups. The reference bar indicates 10% sequence divergence.

Citation: Rajilić-Stojanović M, de Vos W, Zoetendal E. 2008. The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health, p 11-32. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch2
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(A) Ratio of the average hybridization signals obtained by the analysis of fecal DNA and RNA. Less active phylogenetic groups (higher hybridization signals with DNA) are presented as left-oriented bars, while active phylogenetic groups (higher hybridization signal with RNA) are presented with right-oriented bars. Relative composition of the total microbiota (B) and active microbiota (C).

Citation: Rajilić-Stojanović M, de Vos W, Zoetendal E. 2008. The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health, p 11-32. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch2
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Image of FIGURE 4

PCA triplot depicting the microbiota of healthy adults (○) (D1–D9), patients with IBS (◆) (IBS1–IBS9), and patients with UC (■) (UC1–UC9). Percentage values at the axes indicate contribution of the principal components to the explanation of total variance in the dataset; phylogenetic groups named after cultivated representative that contributed at least 60% to the explanatory axis used in the plot are presented as vectors, while centroides of the plot describe health status of subjects.

Citation: Rajilić-Stojanović M, de Vos W, Zoetendal E. 2008. The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health, p 11-32. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch2
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Approximate dimensions of the human GI tract and corresponding microbiota density ( ).

Citation: Rajilić-Stojanović M, de Vos W, Zoetendal E. 2008. The Human Intestinal Microbiota and Its Impact on Health, p 11-32. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch2

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