CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Aug. 2 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’re taking the first up-close look at some microbes that, although rare in the human gut, are fundamental to colon health.
The so-called “hydrogenotrophic” microbes make up less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the microbes that live in the colon but the bacteria and archaea that sop up hydrogen in the gut are vital to colon health, researchers say.
University of Illinois researchers say theirs is the first study to sample these microbes at specific locales in the colon, mapping where they live and how abundant they are in different parts of the lower intestine.
Scientists have long known various microbes in the colon collaborate to ferment undigested food and degrade and dispose of the byproducts of fermentation, a university release said Tuesday.
Disruptions of the colonic function are thought to have profound implications for human health. A microbial imbalance is suspected of being one factor in inflammatory bowel diseases including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
“We’re getting closer and closer to looking at the microbiological origin of many diseases,” gastroenterologist Eugene Greenberg of the Carle Foundation in Urbana, Ill., said.