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Feb 27, 2020

How resident microbes restructure body chemistry

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, genetics, neuroscience

The team compared germ-free (sterile) mice and mice with normal microbes. They used a laboratory technique called mass spectrometry to characterize the non-living molecules in every mouse organ. They identified as many molecules as possible by comparing them to reference structures in the GNPS database, a crowdsourced mass spectrometry repository developed by Dorrestein and collaborators. They also determined which living microbes co-locate with these molecules by sequencing a specific genetic region that acts as a barcode for bacterial types.

In total, they analyzed 768 samples from 96 sites of 29 different organs from four germ-free mice and four mice with normal microbes. The result was a map of all of the molecules found throughout the body of a normal mouse with microbes, and a map of molecules throughout a mouse without microbes.

A comparison of the maps revealed that as much as 70 percent of a mouse’s gut chemistry is determined by its gut microbiome. Even in distant organs, such as the uterus or the brain, approximately 20 percent of molecules were different in the mice with gut microbes.

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