There is increasing evidence linking certain disorders of the human body to a disturbed gut microbiota, and as a result, a growing interest for compounds that positively influence its composition and activity.
This project will examine ecological interactions and environmental factors that influence butyrate production in the gut microbiome. Dietary substrates such as fiber can be transformed by the gut microbiota into a short chain fatty acid butyrate. Butyrate helps to maintain a healthy gut microbiome state and it is important for preventing gut-related diseases. Researchers have found that the gut is less likely to suffer from inflammatory disorders in the presence of butyrate. This includes chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or colitis.
Discovery of inter-species interactions, intracellular networks and major metabolites that contribute to biochemical profiles in the gut microbiota is a major question in understanding the functional roles of microbes in mediating human health. This project will make headway along these lines through a combination of modeling and experimental methods to analyze the production of short chain fatty acids in the mouse gut. Defining the major forces that mediate core functions of the gut microbiota will have implications for developing targeted environmental interventions such as precision microbiome editing for enhancing human health.