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Animals in a bacterial world, a new imperative for the life sciences.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Bacteria, metabolism, Biological Evolution, Biological Science Disciplines, Ecosystem, Genome, Growth and Development, Animals

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      Abstract

      In the last two decades, the widespread application of genetic and genomic approaches has revealed a bacterial world astonishing in its ubiquity and diversity. This review examines how a growing knowledge of the vast range of animal-bacterial interactions, whether in shared ecosystems or intimate symbioses, is fundamentally altering our understanding of animal biology. Specifically, we highlight recent technological and intellectual advances that have changed our thinking about five questions: how have bacteria facilitated the origin and evolution of animals; how do animals and bacteria affect each other's genomes; how does normal animal development depend on bacterial partners; how is homeostasis maintained between animals and their symbionts; and how can ecological approaches deepen our understanding of the multiple levels of animal-bacterial interaction. As answers to these fundamental questions emerge, all biologists will be challenged to broaden their appreciation of these interactions and to include investigations of the relationships between and among bacteria and their animal partners as we seek a better understanding of the natural world.

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      Most cited references 114

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      Human gut microbiome viewed across age and geography

      Gut microbial communities represent one source of human genetic and metabolic diversity. To examine how gut microbiomes differ between human populations when viewed from the perspective of component microbial lineages, encoded metabolic functions, stage of postnatal development, and environmental exposures, we characterized bacterial species present in fecal samples obtained from 531 individuals representing healthy Amerindians from the Amazonas of Venezuela, residents of rural Malawian communities, and inhabitants of USA metropolitan areas, as well as the gene content of 110 of their microbiomes. This cohort encompassed infants, children, teenagers and adults, parents and offspring, and included mono- and dizygotic twins. Shared features of the functional maturation of the gut microbiome were identified during the first three years of life in all three populations, including age-associated changes in the representation of genes involved in vitamin biosynthesis and metabolism. Pronounced differences in bacterial species assemblages and functional gene repertoires were noted between individuals residing in the USA compared to the other two countries. These distinctive features are evident in early infancy as well as adulthood. In addition, the similarity of fecal microbiomes among family members extends across cultures. These findings underscore the need to consider the microbiome when evaluating human development, nutritional needs, physiological variations, and the impact of Westernization.
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        The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage.

        New therapeutic targets for noncognitive reductions in energy intake, absorption, or storage are crucial given the worldwide epidemic of obesity. The gut microbial community (microbiota) is essential for processing dietary polysaccharides. We found that conventionalization of adult germ-free (GF) C57BL/6 mice with a normal microbiota harvested from the distal intestine (cecum) of conventionally raised animals produces a 60% increase in body fat content and insulin resistance within 14 days despite reduced food intake. Studies of GF and conventionalized mice revealed that the microbiota promotes absorption of monosaccharides from the gut lumen, with resulting induction of de novo hepatic lipogenesis. Fasting-induced adipocyte factor (Fiaf), a member of the angiopoietin-like family of proteins, is selectively suppressed in the intestinal epithelium of normal mice by conventionalization. Analysis of GF and conventionalized, normal and Fiaf knockout mice established that Fiaf is a circulating lipoprotein lipase inhibitor and that its suppression is essential for the microbiota-induced deposition of triglycerides in adipocytes. Studies of Rag1-/- animals indicate that these host responses do not require mature lymphocytes. Our findings suggest that the gut microbiota is an important environmental factor that affects energy harvest from the diet and energy storage in the host. Data deposition: The sequences reported in this paper have been deposited in the GenBank database (accession nos. AY 667702--AY 668946).
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          The gut microbiota shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease.

          Immunological dysregulation is the cause of many non-infectious human diseases such as autoimmunity, allergy and cancer. The gastrointestinal tract is the primary site of interaction between the host immune system and microorganisms, both symbiotic and pathogenic. In this Review we discuss findings indicating that developmental aspects of the adaptive immune system are influenced by bacterial colonization of the gut. We also highlight the molecular pathways that mediate host-symbiont interactions that regulate proper immune function. Finally, we present recent evidence to support that disturbances in the bacterial microbiota result in dysregulation of adaptive immune cells, and this may underlie disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. This raises the possibility that the mammalian immune system, which seems to be designed to control microorganisms, is in fact controlled by microorganisms.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            23391737
            10.1073/pnas.1218525110
            3587249

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