In an attempt to catalog all bacteria strains that reside in the human gut, scientists have identified, isolated, and preserved 7,758 bacteria strains from 90 study participants over a two-year period. The metabolic and genetic functions for each strain have also been identified. The strains were pulled from the 6 main bacteria families, or phyla, that reside in the gut, including Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Euryarchaeota, and Verrucomicrobia. A dozen study participants provided samples over a prolonged period of time (up to 2 years), which allowed researchers to observe the dynamic interactions among strains over time.
Furthering the research, scientists will look at the gut microbiomes of more diverse populations worldwide, including those who live in non-industrialized environments. Scientists believe that cataloging the bacteria strains that live in the gut will allow for a better understanding of how bacteria interact metabolically and genetically, and could lead to harnessing the microbiome to help prevent and treat disease. Nature Medicine