Unique viruses called bacteriophages may play an important role in competition among bacterial strains, influencing the overall ecosystem of the human intestine, scientists at The University of Texas at Arlington and UT Southwestern Medical Center say.
A team led by Lora V. Hooper, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and including UT Arlington assistant professor of biology Jorge Rodrigues examined the bacteriophages, or phages, produced by genetic information harbored in the chromosome of the mammalian gut bacterium Enterococcus faecalis. They found that a phage unique to Enterococcus faecalis strain V583 in mice acts as a predator, infecting and harming other similar, competing bacterial strains. They believe these lab results suggest what goes on in the human intestine.
"This organism is using phage as a way to compete in your gut. If the phage is released and gets rid of all the other microbes, then strain V583 will have more nutrients available," Rodrigues said. "It opens up new questions about the role of phages in the gut system. Ultimately, you could use this as a technique to control bacteria in a natural way."
The findings were presented in October in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in a paper called, "A composite bacteriophage alters colonization by an intestinal commensal bacterium." It is available online here. Other co-authors were members of Hooper's lab: Breck A. Duerkop, Charmaine V. Clements and Darcy Rollins.
"Now that we've established the role of these bacteriophages, our team is working on trying to discover the specific triggers that lead to phage production in the gut," said Hooper, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "We also want to understand whether there are other phages that play a role in shaping the composition of gut bacterial communities."
Bacteria are abundant in the human gastrointestinal tract, and scientists are increasingly trying to understand their role in human health. Of those bacteria, Enterococcus faecalis, also known asE. faecalis, can constitute as much as 0.5 to 0.9 percent of gut microflora, according to the researchers. Outside of the gut, E. faecalis can cause dangerous infections, such as endocarditis, and is often resistant to standard antibiotics like vancomycin.
University of Texas at Arlington: http://www.uta.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
A riverside in Nebraska is a welcome refuelling stop for these elegant birds migrating from Mexico to their breeding grounds
Deprived of sight, blind people manage to squeeze an amazing amount of information out of their other senses. Doing this requires their brains to do some reorganizing. To learn about some of these changes, scientists studied the brains of blind people ...
In 1973, American soldiers on the Mekong River in Laos killed and hauled ashore a massive 24-foot ribbon of a fish. It was the “Queen of the Naga,” claimed a postcard still widely circulated in Southeast Asia with the above ...
Bald eagles have made a comeback. See life in the nest now during peak nesting season.
Photos capture a river otter attacking a gator in a Florida river. The otter then feasted, witnesses say.
The 10-meter long Torvosaurus weighed up to five tons.
Researchers say the key to fighting superbugs is individualized treatment plans, and a new nanochip might pave the way
Some farmers have long sworn by mellow tunes to boost Bessie's milk production. The science is hardly conclusive. But a study hints at what might top the barnyard playlist. (Psst: They liked R.E.M.)
Craig Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome over a decade ago and created synthetic life in 2010, is now on a quest to treat age-related disease.
Dr Dave Hone: The Daohugou Fauna is rich in dinosaurs, lizards, pterosaurs, salamanders and mammalsDr Dave Hone