Christensenella: the slimming bacteria
It is now well known that gut bacteria influence our body weight and that fecal transplants can turn lean individuals into obese or vice versa can save them from, otherwise, incurable obesity.
Specifically, christensenella gut bacteria have been found to be more common in lean people than the overweight and obese and they are also highly inheritable from parent to child.
In the lab, christensenella minuta bacteria have turned obese mice into lean mice, and when they were transplanted into bacteria-free obese mice, they reversed their weight gain.
Scientists are now working to further determine the safety and efficacy of christensenella minuta on humans for possible future use as an anti-obesity therapy.
Paper: Human genetics shape the gut microbiome.
Abstract: Host genetics and the gut microbiome can both influence metabolic phenotypes. However, whether host genetic variation shapes the gut microbiome and interacts with it to affect host phenotype is unclear. Here, we compared microbiotas across >1,000 fecal samples obtained from the TwinsUK population, including 416 twin pairs. We identified many microbial taxa whose abundances were influenced by host genetics. The most heritable taxon, the family Christensenellaceae, formed a co-occurrence network with other heritable Bacteria and with methanogenic Archaea. Furthermore, Christensenellaceae and its partners were enriched in individuals with low body mass index (BMI). An obese-associated microbiome was amended with Christensenella minuta, a cultured member of the Christensenellaceae, and transplanted to germ-free mice. C. minuta amendment reduced weight gain and altered the microbiome of recipient mice. Our findings indicate that host genetics influence the composition of the human gut microbiome and can do so in ways that impact host metabolism.