Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have identified 26 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiota that appear to be linked to obesity and related metabolic complications.
The findings indicate that researchers are starting to identify bacteria that are correlated with clinical parameters, which suggests that the gut microbiota could one day be targeted with medication, diet or lifestyle changes.
Interestingly, the researchers also analyzed people's gut bacteria by their occupation and found that those who had regular contact with livestock, such as farmers and their wives, had bacterial communities dominated by Prevotella, a type of bacteria that is also abundant in the gut microbiota of cattle and sheep. The findings suggest that environmental exposure may play a role in determining the composition of the gut microbiota in humans.
The research paper is:
Margaret L. Zupancic, Brandi L. Cantarel, Zhenqiu Liu, Elliott F. Drabek, Kathleen A. Ryan, Shana Cirimotich, Cheron Jones, Rob Knight, William A. Walters, Daniel Knights, Emmanuel F. Mongodin, Richard B. Horenstein, Braxton D. Mitchell, Nanette Steinle, Soren Snitker, Alan R. Shuldiner, Claire M. Fraser. Analysis of the Gut Microbiota in the Old Order Amish and Its Relation to the Metabolic Syndrome. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8)