Relation of Fungi to Alterations of the Gastrointestinal Microbiota

Date
2018
Authors
Mueller, Katherine
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Abstract

Gastrointestinal diseases are a wide-ranging set of illnesses associated with inflammation of the gut and are sometimes debilitating in nature. Previous studies have shown that these diseases are associated with dysbiosis of the gut microbiota. However, fungi have been relatively neglected in studies of the microbiota. DNA extracted from stool samples taken after ingestion of the fungus Mucor circinelloides was used to analyze the microbiota in the gastrointestinal tracts of mice. We found that transient exposure to Mucor induced a disruption of the bacterial gut microbiota.

Anorexia nervosa(AN) is a mental illness characterized by a fear of gaining body weight, which results in severe weight loss and malnutrition. AN shows the highest mortality rate of mental illnesses, yet relapse rates after treatment reach 50%. As such, finding new treatments for AN is of great importance. In a preliminary study, we found that AN patients present with an overall lower fungal diversity than do healthy controls in a manner consistent with that of previous studies.

Understanding how the gut microbiota is shaped is important for the development of novel treatment methods for various gastrointestinal illness. How the gut microbiota changes in response to disease or exposure to new organisms, even by those not considered to be agents of food-borne illness, may be important to how commercial food producers prevent and respond to contamination of products aimed at the public. These studies provide evidence that the fungal microbiota, though understudied, may play an important role in diseases of the human gut.

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Keywords
fungi, microbiota
Citation
Department
Integrative Biology