Nearly 2,000 varieties of previously unknown gut bacteria have been discovered in the human digestive tract, according to a new study. The findings were made by researchers with the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute, where the team identified nearly 2,000 varieties using computational methods. These newly identified gut bacteria species have not been cultured in a lab at this time.
Human gut bacteria is a mystery that is still unraveling. A growing number of studies have linked gut bacteria with a variety of health benefits and potential health consequences, these colonies being shaped by things like antibiotic use and one’s diet. Scientists still have a lot to learn about the gut microbiota, including what strains are found in it.
According to a study newly published in Nature, researchers used computational methods to analyze samples taken from people around the globe. These tools enabled the researchers to determine what bacteria species are present without actually culturing them in a laboratory.
The work could one day lead to something like a “blueprint” of human gut bacteria, but there’s still work to be done. According to the researchers, gut bacteria differs around the globe, and there’s still a lack of adequate samples outside of European and North American populations. Talking about that was EMBL-EBI Group Leader Rob Finn, who said:
We are seeing a lot of the same bacterial species crop up in the data from European and North American populations. However, the few South American and African datasets we had access to for this study revealed significant diversity not present in the former populations. This suggests that collecting data from underrepresented populations is essential if we want to achieve a truly comprehensive picture of the composition of the human gut.