Diversity and ecophysiology of sulfur-compound-metabolizing microorganisms in the intestinal tract of different mammalian hosts

Current projects

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a ubiquitous gasotransmitter in humans and animals and it is particularly produced by sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonate) is the most abundant amino acid analog present in mammalian tissues and plays important roles in mammalian physiology. Previous studies showed taurine can be degraded to produce H2S by Bilophila wadsworthia in the GIT and microbial metabolism of taurine may play an important role in gut health. However, there is little known about the taurine degraders in the gut. Thus, my first PhD project “Taurine utilizers in the gastrointestinal tract of different hosts” aimed at isolation of the taurine degraders from the GIT of different hosts. So far, the first taurine-utilizing bacterium from the mouse intestine has been isolated, which turned out to represent a new genus and will be an important asset for future experiments with gnotobiotic mice.

My second PhD project “Microbiota of common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and the association of gut microbiota with their social behaviors” aimed at revealing the composition of the microbial community and sulfur-reducing bacteria diversity in the gut of marmosets and exploring the relationship between gut microbiota and social behaviors in marmosets.

Approach: Targeted microorganisms were enriched by amendment of certain substrates and the dynamic of microbial communities was monitored by Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and Electron microscopy.  Genome of the isolates were sequenced to reveal the genomic information of sulfur-compound metabolism. Microbial composition of monkey gut was revealed using MiSeq sequencing and behavior data were collected at the mean time of feces collection.

Student: Huimin Ye

Faculty: Loy (PI)

Funding: FWF & CSC