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IISER Bhopal Researchers Show Important Differences In Gut Bacterial Compositions

In the largest gut metagenome study from India, the research team studied the bacterial profile of 200 gut samples taken from people from several Indian locations.

(L to R) Dr. Vineet K. Sharma along with his research scholars Mr. Vishnu Prasoodanan and Ms. Shruti Mahajan

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal Researchers have shown the differences in the type of gut bacteria between Indian and Western populations. These variations arise from the differences in the diet patterns in these two regions – the Indian diet being richer in carbohydrates and fibre than the Western. 

The researchers found that the Indian gut microbiome has the highest abundance of the Prevotella genus of bacteria, in particular, a species called Prevotella copri. This bacterium also dominates the guts of other populations that consume a carbohydrate- and fibre-rich diet, such as the Italian, Madagascarian, Peruvian, and Tanzanian. The gut microbiomes of people from Western countries like the USA are dominated by Bacteroides.

To understand the functional roles of the Prevotella type bacteria, the researchers performed genomic analyses and found that the bacteria contained specific locations (“loci”) in their genomes that are responsible for metabolising complex plant carbohydrates and fibres. It is thus logical that this type of bacteria predominates the gut microbiome of healthy Indian and non-western population that consumes a diet rich in plant carbohydrates and fibres.

Another interesting observation by the team was that other Prevotella species such as P. intermedia and P. nigrescens were found in the guts of the Western population. These bacteria are usually found in the mouth, which points to a mouth-gut axis. These bacterial species are inflammatory and have high virulence and antibiotic resistance genes. These species make the Western population more susceptible to gut inflammatory diseases.

Speaking about the practical implications of his work, Dr Sharma said, “Our insights would help in the development of new probiotics and prebiotics for different health-related conditions associated with the gut which is much needed for non-western populations.”


Tags assigned to this article:
IISER research R&D Gut bacteria

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