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GI Tract Microbial Community and Analysis of Its Role in Human and Animal Health


The homeostasis and host communication associated with GI tract microbial communities play a central role in the maintenance of health, but the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. This project will use molecular approaches to advance understanding of both the complete microbial communities and selected commensal LAB islolates. <P>
This research impacts on food safety in that commensal bacteria have the potential to compete with, and exclude, pathogens. We will isolate and characterise LAB inhabitants of the GI tracts of humans and food animals and investigate their potential for pathogen control and eradication. This will include continued characterisation and exploitation of a lead strain of Lactobacillus johnsonii. In particular we will seek to understand host colonisation focussing on surface structures, including adhesins and the interaction of bacteria with host epithelial cells and the host immune system. <P>The GI tracts of humans and animals harbour large and complex populations of micro-organisms that play a vital role in the maintenance of health. Bacteria colonise the gut from birth and there are more than 500 different known species in people, although many cannot be grown in vitro. We will develop and apply molecular methods to identify and understand the population dynamics of these complex microbial communities in both healthy and patients with GI tract disorders. <P>The impact of stress-related hormones such as noradrenalin on the bacterial community will also be investigated.