Clostridium botulinum

The Wikipedia entry for Clostridium botulinum notes that:

Clostridium botulinum is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic, spore-forming, motile bacterium with the ability to produce the neurotoxinbotulinum.[1][2] The botulinum toxin can cause a severe flaccid paralytic disease in humans and other animals[2] and is the most potent toxin known to humankind, natural or synthetic, with a lethal dose of 1.3–2.1 ng/kg in humans.[3]

C. botulinum is a diverse group of pathogenic bacteria initially grouped together by their ability to produce botulinum toxin and now known as four distinct groups, C. botulinum groups I-IV. C. botulinum groups I-IV, as well as some strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii, are the bacteria responsible for producing botulinum toxin.[1]

C. botulinum is responsible for foodborne botulism (ingestion of preformed toxin), infant botulism (intestinal infection with toxin-forming C. botulinum), and wound botulism (infection of a wound with C. botulinum). C. botulinum produces heat-resistant endospores that are commonly found in soil and are able to survive under adverse conditions.[1]

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Bifidobacterium

Bifidobacterium is a genus of gram-positive, nonmotile, often branched anaerobic bacteria. They are ubiquitous inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract, vagina and mouth (B. dentium) of mammals, including humans. Bifidobacteria are one of the major genera of bacteria that make up the colon flora in mammals. Some bifidobacteria are used as probiotics. (source)

According to a Bangladeshi microbiota study published last month, poor vaccine efficacy is associated with systemic inflammation due to gut dysbiosis. Bifidobacteria were found a key factor in improving vaccine responsiveness. There are many known strains of bifidobacteria, some considered better than others. Bifidobacteria levels in the USA vary widely among individuals. Studies report much lower levels of bifidobacteria in children with autism. (source)

• Abundance associated with higher bacterial gene richness in the gut • Modulates local and systemic immune responses • Abundance lower in IBD • Abundance lower in IBS; low levels also correlate with symptom severity in IBS • Lower levels seen in type 2 diabetes, pediatric allergy, and autism • Increased levels in obese subjects compared to lean/overweight; infants with lower Bifidobacterium may have increased risk for weight gain in childhood • Abundance decreases after weight loss and gastric-bypass surgery (source)

“Overall, both of these microbes seem to be major players in the gut-brain axis. John Cryan, a neuroscientist at the University College of Cork in Ireland, has examined the effects of both of them on depression in animals. In a 2010 paper published in Neuroscience, he gave mice either bifidobacterium or the antidepressant Lexapro; he then subjected them to a series of stressful situations, including a test which measured how long they continued to swim in a tank of water with no way out. (They were pulled out after a short period of time, before they drowned.) The microbe and the drug were both effective at increasing the animals’ perseverance, and reducing levels of hormones linked to stress. Another experiment, this time using lactobacillus, had similar results. Cryan is launching a study with humans (using measurements other than the forced swim test to gauge subjects’ response).” (source)

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Christensenella minuta

Christensenella minuta is a heritable firmicute that is linked to leanness.

From The Most Heritable Gut Bacterium is… Wait, What is That?:

By studying 416 pairs of British twins, Julia Goodrich and colleagues from Cornell University have identified the gut microbes whose presence is most strongly affected by our genes. And chief among them was a mysterious bacterium called Christensenella minuta, the one and only member of a family that was discovered just three years ago.

Genetically and physically, it’s rather mundane. It’s yet another rod-shaped, oxygen-hating, nutrient-fermenting bacterium from the Firmicute dynasty—one of the two major groups in our guts. And yet, more than any other microbe, its presence in our body is strongly influenced by our genes. Christensenella also seems to sit at the centre of a large network of microbes; if it’s there, these others are likely to show up too. And it influences our weight: it’s more common in lean people, and it can reduce weight gain in mice.

All of these traits suggest that Christensenella might (emphasis on might) be a keystone species: one that wields a disproportionate influence upon the world around it. The term was first used to describe a starfish, whose absence could entirely change the nature of a seashore. It has since been used to describe sea otters, wolves, and mistletoe. These species might be relatively rare, but they are ecologically powerful. Perhaps Christensenella is similarly important in the world of our guts. And yet, until recently, no one even knew it existed.

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Roseburia

Roseburia is a genus of butyrate-producing, Gram-positive anaerobic bacteria that inhabit the human colon. Named in honor of Theodor Rosebury, they are members of the phylum firmicutes. Increased abundance of Roseburia is associated with weight loss and reduced glucose intolerance. (source)

• Abundance associated with higher bacterial gene richness in the gut • Less abundant in individuals with IBS, particularly constipation-predominant IBS • Counts lower in type 2 diabetics; trending inversely with plasma glucose • Lower in IBD and early-onset rheumatoid arthritis (as part of decreased E. rectale-C. coccoides group) (source)

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Faecalibacterium prausnitzii

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is very special. It is a gut barrier and immune system warrior and known as a keystone ‘Peacekeeper‘ (Nature 2015, fantastic photos).You can see above it is a red-orange and found in robustly in concentration of hundreds in 94% of tested healthy subjects. In clinical trials, it is low where diseases are present and high in disease-free people. It is a harbinger for bad health if it and several other ‘ancestral core’ species are depleted. (source)

From Among Trillions of Microbes in the Gut, a Few Are Special:

In the mid-2000s Harry Sokol, a gastroenterologist at Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris, was surprised by what he found when he ran some laboratory tests on tissue samples from his patients with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gut. The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease remains a mystery. Some have argued that it results from a hidden infection; others suspect a proliferation of certain bacteria among the trillions of microbes that inhabit the human gut. But when Sokol did a comparative DNA analysis of diseased sections of intestine surgically removed from the patients, he observed a relative depletion of just one common bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. Rather than “bad” microbes prompting disease, he wondered, could a single “good” microbe prevent disease?

Sokol transferred the bacterium to mice and found it protected them against experimentally induced intestinal inflammation. And when he subsequently mixed F. prausnitzii with human immune cells in a test tube, he noted a strong anti-inflammatory response. Sokol seemed to have identified a powerfully anti-inflammatory member of the human microbiota.

• In a healthy gut, represents more than 5% of the total bacterial population and is comprised of only one species • Abundance associated with higher bacterial gene richness in the gut • Controls inflammation through inflammatory-cytokine inhibition; lower counts reported in IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), although increases have been noted • Appears to protect against glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes; possibly due to anti-inflammatory effects and/or positive effects on insulin resistance status (source)

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The Gut Brain Connection Science News Article

Microbes can play games with the mind: The bacteria in our guts may help decide who gets anxiety and depression

The 22 men took the same pill for four weeks. When interviewed, they said they felt less daily stress and their memories were sharper. The brain benefits were subtle, but the results, reported at last year’s annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, got attention. That’s because the pills were not a precise chemical formula synthesized by the pharmaceutical industry.

The capsules were brimming with bacteria.

In the ultimate PR turnaround, once-dreaded bacteria are being welcomed as health heroes. People gobble them up in probiotic yogurts, swallow pills packed with billions of bugs and recoil from hand sanitizers. Helping us nurture the microbial gardens in and on our bodies has become big business, judging by grocery store shelves.

These bacteria are possibly working at more than just keeping our bodies healthy: They may be changing our minds. Recent studies have begun turning up tantalizing hints about how the bacteria living in the gut can alter the way the brain works. These findings raise a question with profound implications for mental health: Can we soothe our brains by cultivating our bacteria?

The remainder of the article can be found here – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/microbes-can-play-games-mind

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395615000655

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Actinobacteria

Actinobacteria: which are so important to a healthy microbiome that we can even take probiotic supplements of them, are the most common microbes on our skin and are commensal to our mouths and genitals too. It is in fact the suborder Propionibacteria that is the most frequent inhabitant of our skin. Some bacteria play different roles in male versus female microbiomes – and Actinobacteria happen to crop up a lot in the female camp. These microbes are major components of the female urinary microbiome and are also affected by changes caused by pregnancy. Gender differences aside, people with psoriasis have less of these bugs but people with ulcerative colitis tend to have more. Actinobacteria are also the most common bacteria in our noses. Beyond the microbiome, these microbes are found predominantly in soil and freshwater, and strains are known to produce a variety of biologically active compounds including antibiotics, antifungals, and plant and animal growth factors. The phylum Actinobacteria is made up of only one, eponymous, class (Source Ubiome).

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ProteoBacteria

ProteoBacteria: Along with Firmicutes, Proteobacteria are the most common gut microbes in Westerners. Although all of us carry these microbes, folks with inflammatory bowel disease seem to have more Proteobacteria and fewer varieties of other bacteria. Interestingly, the proportional representation of Proteobacteria increases dramatically in the digestive tracts of pregnant women in their third trimester. (Source Ubiome).

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Bacteroidetes

Bacteroidetes: are the most prominent gut microbes in much of the world. They are thought to help protect against obesity because they do not digest fat well. The first settlers of Europe needed to be able to better digest fat, so they would have enough energy to survive brutal, Ice Age winters. People who had fewer Bacteroidetes and more fat-digesting Firmicutes therefore became the dominant players. Now Bacteroidetes are underrepresented in the guts of Europeans and North Americans, but the phenomenon doesn’t appear to be genetic. African Americans’ proportions of are more similar to fellow North Americans’ than they are to native Africans’. Fortunately, this fact means that with dietary and lifestyle changes, we should be able to grow our Bacteroidetes back especially since most of us don’t need to store up for the next saber-toothed tiger hunt. (source Ubiome).

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Firmicute

Firmicute helps us to digest fat that our bodies need for energy and are among the most common microbes in our gut. Although an oversupply of firmicutes has been linked to a higher risk of obesity, historically these bacteria helped early Europeans survive harsh winters with barely a wooly mammoth in sight. Now that we inhabit less challenging environments, an imbalance of too many Firmicutes in relation to another common gut microbe, Bacteroidetes, may be associated with obesity. However, having more Firmicutes than Bacteroidetes in the vagina is correlated with decreased risk of bacterial vaginosis. Some well-known Firmicutes are the pathogens behind diseases such as botulism and anthrax, but the vast majority are both completely harmless and necessary for normal digestion. Outside the microbiome, this diverse subgroup of bacteria is involved in processes ranging from fermentation of beer and wine, breakdown of milk into yogurt, and even toxic waste clean-up (called “bioremediation”) (Source Ubiome).

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