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The Human Gut Virome

Summary and Comment |
July 17, 2013

The Human Gut Virome

  1. Richard T. Ellison III, MDAU075

Serial analyses of the gut viral population of a single human identified both persistent and rapidly evolving viral genomes.

  1. Richard T. Ellison III, MDAU075

Each gram of human stool contains >109 viruslike particles, most of which are still unidentified. To begin to understand the nature of this population, researchers in Philadelphia undertook a longitudinal analysis of the gut virome of a single individual.

The researchers analyzed 24 samples obtained from a healthy male at 16 time points over 2.5 years. Using deep metagenomic sequencing, they were able to identify 478 consensus DNA sequences, which appeared to correspond mostly to viral (bacteriophage) genomes. Approximately 13% of these consensus genomes were consistent with members of the Microviridae, Podoviridae, Myoviridae, and Siphoviridae, but the majority could not be classified. No eukaryotic cell viruses were definitively identified. On average, >80% of these consensus genomes were retained over the duration of the study. High genetic substitution rates (>1 substitution per 105 nucleotides per day) were noted for the Microviridae. Multiple mechanisms contributing to viral sequence variation were identified.

Comment

A full understanding of the human microbiome requires recognition of the diversity of our viral flora as well as of our bacterial and fungal flora. This work highlights the presence of a large viral gut population that is primarily composed of bacteriophages and certainly influences the stability and variability of the gut bacterial flora (NEJM JW Infect Dis Jun 25 2013). Of note: The RNA viral community was not examined in this study.

  • Disclosures for Richard T. Ellison III, MD at time of publication Grant / research support NIH-NIAID

Citation(s):

Reader Comments (1)

peter chung ,DDS,MS FDSRCS Physician, Dentistry, hong kong

it is understood good intestinal health is associated with a reasonable amount of indigenous bifidus bacteria . in this case where a healthy male was screened , did result showed bacteriophages associated with bifidus bacteria?

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