Bacteria found in the human gut release dangerous toxins to combat any potential intruders. A new study argues that each gut comes with an individual set of toxins, a veritable passcode that has to be solved by microbes seeking to infect them.
The researchers argue that there is no universal solution or application when we are looking and probiotics or biotherapeutics, two solutions that are used to encourage the generation of healthy bacteria.
Using the new information the scientists are working on new methods that could allow them to tailor beneficial microbes for individual use. The manipulation of gut microbes to improve health appears to be a promising initiative, but it is hampered by the rules which have to be respected to survive in the gut.
It is estimated that over 100 billion bacterial cells can be found in a gram of feces, and bacteria outnumber human cells by a ratio of 10 to 1. These microbes, which are known collectively as the gut microbiome, are essential for human health.
The team of researchers worked for over a decade on the traits of a bacterial defense system, which is called the type VI secretion system. It can be compared to a molecular syringe that injects toxins into nearby cells. The toxins are very powerful, destroying the cell walls, melting membranes and consuming the energy of the cells.
To prevent an untimely date, bacteria use immunity genes to neutralize toxins and remain safe. New bacteria that lack the right genes will be assaulted soon and get removed from the gut. The researchers noted that the immunity genes of a specific bacteria were more numerous in comparison to the toxic genes, and further study revealed that they were stolen by other bacteria that tried to protect themselves.
The study was published in a scientific journal.