An international team of scientists, led by microbiologist Alexander Loy from the University of Vienna, has made a significant discovery regarding gut bacteria. They have identified a new species of bacteria that feeds exclusively on taurine, an amino acid found in meat, dairy, and seafood. The bacterium, named Taurinivorans muris, produces hydrogen sulfide, which is responsible for the foul-smelling gas emitted during flatulence.
The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in our health, including contributing to the production of hydrogen sulfide. In small amounts, hydrogen sulfide is beneficial, as it protects against pathogens such as Klebsiella. However, excessive levels can lead to gut inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining. Understanding the processes and key players involved in the production of hydrogen sulfide is an essential step in developing therapeutic interventions, particularly for inflammatory bowel disease.
Taurine, the amino acid on which Taurinivorans muris feeds, is also believed to be important for healthy aging and preventing age-related diseases. This discovery adds to the growing body of knowledge about the relationships between gut microbes, taurine, and overall health. The researchers found that Taurinivorans muris requires the assistance of other gut microbes to access sufficient taurine from bile acids.
In addition to its role in taurine metabolism, Taurinivorans muris also has a protective effect against certain pathogens, such as Klebsiella and Salmonella. The exact mechanism behind this protection is not yet fully understood. However, it is believed that hydrogen sulfide may suppress the oxygen-dependent metabolism of these pathogens.
This study contributes to a better understanding of the complex interactions within the gut microbiome and its impact on overall health. Further research and knowledge in this area could lead to the development of new microbiome-based therapies.
– Nature Communications: “Taurinivorans: a taurine-utilizing bacterium from the mouse intestine” (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12051-0)
– University of Vienna Press Release