Episode Summary

Bacteria found in the guts of serious athletes help mice exercise longer by transforming their metabolic waste!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Aggregatibacter (Actinobacillus) actinomycetemcomitans

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

Our gut microbes affect many aspects of health, and many aspects of how we live affect our microbes. One such aspect is physical exertion, which has been associated with enrichment of various microbes in the guts of athletes. This observation led to the question: are these microbes just benefiting from the high levels of exertion, or are they able to contribute also?

This study found that certain such bacteria, when given to mice, enabled the mice to run for a longer period on a treadmill. These microbes break down lactic acid, which is generated in our bodies when we push our physical limits, but the study provided evidence that the longer run times were due not to removal of this waste product, but to the propionate compound produced by its degradation.

Journal Paper

Scheiman J, Luber JM, Chavkin TA, MacDonald T, Tung A, Pham L-D, Wibowo MC, Wurth RC, Punthambaker S, Tierney BT, Yang Z, Hattab MW, Avila-Pacheco J, Clish CB, Lessard S, Church GM, Kostic AD. 2019. Meta-omics analysis of elite athletes identifies a performance-enhancing microbe that functions via lactate metabolism. Nat Med 25:1104–1109.

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