Funding Information This work was partially supported by a GOA (BOF12/GOA/008) and an SBO project (100016) from the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT).
Prebiotics, faecal transplants and microbial network units to stimulate biodiversity of the human gut microbiome
Article first published online: 18 APR 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Thematic Issue: Ecological Engineering of the Intestinal Microbiome Connecting the Environment and Food to Therapy and Health
Volume 6, Issue 4, pages 335–340, July 2013
How to Cite
Van den Abbeele, P., Verstraete, W., El Aidy, S., Geirnaert, A. and Van de Wiele, T. (2013), Prebiotics, faecal transplants and microbial network units to stimulate biodiversity of the human gut microbiome. Microbial Biotechnology, 6: 335–340. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12049
- Issue published online: 11 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 18 APR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 14 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Received: 29 JAN 2013
- Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT). Grant Numbers: BOF12/GOA/008, 100016
Accumulating evidence demonstrates the intimate association between human hosts and the gut microbiome. Starting at birth, the sterile gut of the newborn acquires a diverse spectrum of microbes, needed for immunological priming. However, current practices (caesarean sections, use of formula milk) deprive newborns from being exposed to this broad spectrum of microbes. Unnecessary use of antibiotics and excessive hygienic precautions (e.g. natural versus chlorinated drinking water) together with the Western diet further contribute to a decreased microbial diversity in the adult gut. This has been correlated with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, inflammatory bowel diseases and obesity, among others. A healthy gut microbiome is thus characterized by a diverse network of metabolically interacting microbial members. In this context, we review several existing and novel approaches to manage the gut microbiome. First, prebiotic compounds should be re-defined in the sense that they should enhance the ecological biodiversity rather than stimulating single species. Recent studies highlight that structurally different polysaccharides require specific primary degraders but also enhance a similar network of secondary degraders that benefit from cross-feeding. A faecal transplantation is a second approach to restore biodiversity when the microbiota is severely dysbiosed, with promising results regarding C. difficile-associated disease and obesity-related metabolic syndromes. A final strategy is the introduction of key microbial network units, i.e. pre-organized microbial associations, which strengthen the overall microbial network of the gut microbiome that supports human health.