Eating For Two: How Metabolism Establishes Interspecies Interactions in the Gut

Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
Cell host & microbe (Impact Factor: 12.33). 10/2011; 10(4):336-47. DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2011.10.002
Source: PubMed


In bacterial communities, "tight economic times" are the norm. Of the many challenges bacteria face in making a living, perhaps none are more important than generating energy, maintaining redox balance, and acquiring carbon and nitrogen to synthesize primary metabolites. The ability of bacteria to meet these challenges depends heavily on the rest of their community. Indeed, the most fundamental way in which bacteria communicate is by importing the substrates for metabolism and exporting metabolic end products. As an illustration of this principle, we will travel down a carbohydrate catabolic pathway common to many species of Bacteroides, highlighting the interspecies interactions established (often inevitably) at its key steps. We also discuss the metabolic considerations in maintaining the stability of host-associated microbial communities.

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