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.

Click HERE for a 10% off coupon on all uBiome services.

ubiome logo

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).

Click HERE for a 10% off coupon on all uBiome services.

ubiome logo