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Understanding the Gut Microbiota

Gerald W. Tannock

ISBN: 978-1-118-80134-5 December 2016 184 Pages


This book discusses the community of microbial species (the microbiota, microbiome), which inhabits the large bowel of humans. Written from the perspective of an academic who has been familiar with the topic for 40 years, it provides a long-term perspective of knowledge about this high profile and fast-moving topic. Building on general ecological principles, the book aims to help the reader to understand how the microbiota is formed, how it works, and what the consequences are to humans.

Understanding the Gut Microbiota focuses on conceptual progress made from studies of the human bowel microbiota. Where appropriate, it draws on knowledge obtained from other animal species to provide conceptual enlightenment, but this is essentially a book about humans and their bowel microbes. Particular research approaches are recommended to fill knowledge gaps so that fundamental ecological theory and information about the microbiota can be translated into benefits for human health. The relationship between food for humans and resulting food for bowel bacteria emerges as an important topic for consideration.

This concise scholarly treatise of the microbiota of the human bowel will be of great interest and use as a text and reference work for professionals, teachers and students across a wide range of disciplines, including the health sciences, general biology, and food science and technology. The provision of handy ‘explanation of terms’ means that those with a general interest in science can also read the book with enjoyment.

Preface vii

Acknowledgements ix

1 Introduction 1

References 4

2 Prime Facts 7

Summary 14

Explanation of Terms 15

References 16

3 A Sense of Community 19

Summary 33

Explanation of Terms 33

References 35

4 Assembling Communities 39

Summary 55

Explanation of Terms 55

References 56

5 Bowel Society 63

References 69

6 Chemostat Bowel 71

Summary 82

Explanation of Terms 82

References 83

7 Revealing Secret Lives 87

Summary 98

Explanation of terms 98

References 101

8 Remembrance of Microbes Past 105

Summary 111

References 112

9 Out of Tune: Dysbiosis 115

Summary 130

Explanation of Terms 130

References 132

10 We may be Lost, but we’re Making Good Time 139

Particularly Important Considerations 143

Running Out of Fuel? 145

The End of the Journey 146

References 146

Addendum: A Brief Summary of Technological Aspects of ]omics 149

General Features of Nucleic Acid-based Technology 149

Older Electrophoretic Methods for Screening Microbiota Compositions 150

Fluorescent Probes (FISH/FC) 151

Measuring the Abundance of Bacterial Groups by qPCR 152

Using DNA Chips to Screen Microbiota Compositions 153

Detailed Phylogenetic Analysis 154

Metagenomics: Determining the Functional Capacity of Microbiotas 155

Metatranscriptomics: Microbiota Biochemical Pathways in Action 156

Metaproteomics 157

Metabolomics 157

Summary 158

References 159

Index 163