Bacteriophages dynamically modulate the gut microbiota and metabolome

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Bryan B. HsuGeorg K. Gerber


The human gut microbiome is comprised of densely colonizing micro-organisms in dynamic interaction with each other and the host. While the bacterial component of the microbiome is under intense investigation, far less is known about how bacteriophages impact bacterial communities in the gut. We investigated the dynamic effects of phages on a model microbiome using gnotobiotic mice colonized by commensal bacteria that colonize the human infant gut, and found that phage predation not only directly impacts susceptible bacteria but also leads to cascading effects on other bacterial species via inter-bacterial interactions. Using metabolomic profiling, we also found that the shifts in the microbiome caused by phage predation have a direct consequence on the gut metabolome. Our work provides insight into the ecological importance of phages as modulators of bacterial colonization, and additionally suggests the potential impact of gut phages on the host with implications for the use of phages as therapeutic tools to rationally and precisely modulate the microbiome.

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