Genomic sequencing technique helps understand gut microbiota one cell at a time

Genomic sequencing technique helps understand gut microbiota one cell at a time

A population of microorganisms living in our intestine, known as the gut microbiota, plays a crucial role in controlling our metabolism and reducing the risk of conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Studies have shown that a way to promote the growth of such beneficial microorganisms and modulate their composition for a healthy balance is to add certain forms of fiber, such as inulin, to our diet. However, out of all the tens of trillions of microorganisms in the gut microbiota, it has been difficult to determine which and how microorganisms respond to dietary fiber. This is because current techniques rely on the availability of reference genomes in DNA sequence databases for precise taxonomic classification and accurate functional assignments of specific organisms, but in actuality, an estimated half of the human gut species lack a reference genome. In addition, existing techniques require hours or even days to complete the task. To address this problem, Waseda University scientists devised a novel technique called the single-cell amplified genomes in gel beads sequencing (SAG-gel) platform, which can provide multiple draft genomes of the gut microbiota at once and identify bacteria that respond to dietary fiber at the species level without a need for existing reference genomes. What's more, the advantage of this technique is that it only takes 10 minutes to obtain draft genomes from raw data of whole-genome sequencing since each data is purely derived from individual microbes. This dramatically speeds up the time needed for the process. Our new, single-cell genome sequencing technique can obtain each bacterial genome separately and characterize uncultured bacteria with specific functions in the microbiota, and this can help us estimate metabolic lineages involved in the bacterial fermentation of fiber and metabolic outcomes in the intestine based on the fibers ingested. It introduces an enhanced and efficient functional analysis of uncultured bacteria in the intestine." Masahito Hosokawa, assistant professor at Waseda University's Faculty of Science and Engineering and corresponding author of this study Related Stories



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