- Every individual harbors a unique cluster of beneficial viruses in their lower gut; this viral ‘signature’ varies greatly among individuals, even identical twins.
- Researchers found that 80% of these viruses were previously undetected, revealing the presence of a vast number of novel viruses in the human gut.
- These friendly viruses are speculated to assist in the digestion of specific elements of the human diet, particularly plant-derived carbohydrates, by modulating the activities of gut microbes.
- Beyond their role in digestion, these viruses may also act as indicators of overall gut health, including how gut flora responds to and recovers from challenges such as illness or treatment.
- Research continues into understanding the lifestyle of viruses within our gut and how this is influenced by the host’s nutritional health.
Fascinating new research has unveiled that each individual possesses a unique cluster of what can be perceive as beneficial viruses in their lower gut. This discovery was brought to light by scientists in the United States who carried out extensive studies on female identical twins and their maternal kin. The researchers discovered that even amongst identical twins, there is a unique viral ‘signature’ present in the large intestine. This intriguing study has been published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Nature.
Discovery of Novel Viruses in the Gut
Moreover, the research revealed that a whopping 80 percent of these viruses were unprecedented, implying they were previously undetected. This incredible discovery was made by the diligent researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine located in St. Louis.
The Role of Friendly Viruses in Digestion
These amiable viruses are speculated to play a role in modulating the activities of gut microbes, which in turn have various advantages. Some of these benefits include aiding humans in digesting specific elements of their diets (such as carbohydrates derived from plants), which our bodies would otherwise struggle to break down. This information was provided by the investigators in a press release issued by the university.
Friendly Viruses as Gut Health Indicators
Not only do these viruses assist in digestion, but they also make serve as markers of the overall health of the microbial community residing in one’s gut. This includes how the gut flora manages challenges and recuperates post an episode of illness or treatment.
Understanding the Viral Lifestyle in our Gut
“Viruses are the principal predators on our planet,” declared the study’s chief researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, who also heads the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University.”Our knowledge about viruses living in harmony with bacteria stems largely from studies conducted on environmental habitats, such as the ocean,” Dr. Gordon explained, “We were keen on understanding the character of viruses and their lifestyle in the most densely populated microbial community housed within our bodies — our gut.”
Dr. Gordon and his research team aim to further explore how these beneficial viruses establish their presence within the intestinal tract and the way this is shaped by the host’s nutritional health.
Learn More About Viruses
Are you interested in expanding your knowledge on viruses and their functions? Click on this link to learn more from the California Institute of Technology .