Episode Summary

Simplified gut communities growing in bioreactors grow and metabolize reproducibly, with only moderate variations, even when individual members of the community are absent!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Citrobacter virus Merlin

Jesse's takeaways

The community of microbes in our guts is highly complex, with thousands of species all interacting with each other, with our own cells, and with the contents of our diet. Each region of the gut has a different collection of microbes as well. Many questions remain to be answered about the functions and fluctuations of these communities. How can we study such a complex system? Which species, if any, are most important for its continued function?

In this study, a simplified community of only 14 species is grown repeatedly in bioreactors, and one species at a time is left out of the community to see what will change in its absence. This reveals effects different species have on the overall growth, carbon source consumption, and production of various metabolites relevant to gut health. Some microbes have large effects, but none of them appears to be crucial for the overall function and stability of the community.

Journal Paper

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