'Good' gut bacterium outcompeting a 'bad' bacterial infection for nutrients protects the host
From assisting digestion to supporting immunity, the bacteria inside our guts are critical to our health. In these diverse communities, pinpointing which specific bacteria are beneficial is difficult, but recent research on Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, a strain of bacteria responsible for gastroenteritis, is providing new insights. Gut bacteria provide some protection from this form of Salmonella, so ingesting it only occasionally leads to disease. Yet, in mice, individuals lacking the bacterium Mucispirillum schaedleri in their intestines were more susceptible to infection, suggesting that Mucispirillum is especially important to their defences. In fact, when they co-exist in the gut, Mucispirillum (pictured, in green, with the gut lining in red) outcompetes Salmonella (in pink) to extract limited resources, such as nitrate, which Salmonella needs to synthesise major components of its weaponry. As we begin to understand microbial interactions in the gut, such competitive effects could suggest new ways of tackling pathogens.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.