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9 news posts in Microbiome



15 Aug 2023

Scientists pinpoint the microbes essential to making traditional mozzarella

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/ Scientists studied the microbes present at different stages of the mozzarella-making process at different dairies using DNA analysis. Most of the bacteria were either Lactobacillus or Streptococcus, but at a smaller dairy, more minor bacterial families were found. The general similarity of the microbiota involved between dairies suggests that, despite minor differences between manufacturers, the same microbes make the mozzarella. Mozzarella is far more than just a pizza topping. A unique Italian cheese, buffalo mozzarella from Campania has been recognized as a delicacy and protected under EU law for nearly 30 years. But what makes this mozzarella so special? The ingredients are simple: water buffalo milk, rennet, and natural whey starter, processed using fresh water and brine. But the natural whey starter contains microbes that are crucial to developing the mozzarella. Scientists from Italy used high-throughput 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, which gives a detailed picture of what microbes are present and in what proportions, to understand how microbes make mozzarella. “This study sheds light on the intricate interactions of microorganisms throughout the manufacturing process and fosters a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship behind this esteemed Italian cheese,” said Dr Alessia Levante of […]


30 Mar 2023

Babies’ gut microbiome not influenced by mothers’ vaginal microbiome composition

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Alterations in babies’ gut microbiomes during early life are commonly associated with negative health outcomes later on, including asthma and obesity. Gut microbiome alterations are frequently attributed to how a baby is delivered (birth mode). This gave ground to practices like vaginal seeding, aiming to expose babies born via C-section to their mother’s vaginal microbiome. Canadian researchers have examined this supposed interplay between infant microbiome composition and birth mode and found that mothers’ vaginal microbiome composition does not affect microbiome development of babies. It has been a longstanding assumption that birth mode and associated exposure of newborns to their mothers’ vaginal microbiome during delivery greatly affects the development of babies’ gut microbiome. To test the scientific validity of this assumption, a team of Canadian researchers has now published a study in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology in which they examined the effect of maternal vaginal microbiome composition on the development of infants’ stool microbiome at 10 days and three months after birth. “We show that the composition of the maternal vaginal microbiome does not substantially influence the infant stool microbiome in early life,” said Dr Deborah Money, a professor of obstetrics […]


11 Nov 2022

Having good friendships may make for a healthier gut microbiome

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Grooming rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago. Image credit: Lauren Brent Researchers show for the first time that monkeys that are more sociable – eg, grooming or being groomed more often, and with more grooming partners – have a healthier gut microbiome. For example, they have more of the beneficial bacteria Faecalibacterium and Prevotella, and fewer of the typically pathogenic bacteria Streptococcus. This is further evidence that in primates, social connectedness translates into good physical and mental health, and vice versa. Social connections are essential for good health and wellbeing in social animals, such as ourselves and other primates. There is also increasing evidence that the gut microbiome – through the so-called ‘gut-brain axis’ – plays a key role in our physical and mental health and that bacteria can be transmitted socially, for example through touch. So how does social connectedness translate into the composition and diversity of the gut microbiome? That’s the topic of a new study in Frontiers in Microbiology on rhesus macaques, Macaca mulatta. Lead author Dr Katerina Johnson, a research associate at the Department of Experimental Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Oxford, said: “Here we show […]


30 Aug 2022

Beetles rely on unique ‘back pockets’ to keep bacterial symbionts safe during metamorphosis

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Lagria villosa adult. Image credit: RS Janke Researchers show that beetles in the genus Lagria have evolved unique ‘back pockets’ on their larvae and pupae to house bacterial symbionts, which protect the immature life stages against fungi. But in adult females, the symbionts exclusively occur in the accessory glands, next to the oviduct, from where they are deposited onto eggs. When the adult beetles emerge, friction shuffles the symbionts out of the pockets and backwards to the genital area. They then colonize the accessory glands by an unknown mechanism. Beetles of the genus Lagria need a little help from their bacterial friends throughout their immature life stages. But keeping them in the same spot throughout life isn’t feasible. This is because beetles are holometabolous insects, which undergo an overall bodily reorganization (metamorphosis) as pupae. Here, scientists show for the first time that the beetles have evolved an ingenious solution to this problem: female pupae keep their symbiotic bacteria in specialized pockets on their back. When they emerge as adults, they shuffle the bacteria out of these pockets, backwards and then on into their genital area. These results are published in Frontiers in Physiology. ► Read […]


23 Sep 2021

Bat guts become less healthy through diet of ‘fast food’ from banana plantations

By Tania Fitzgeorge-Balfour, science writer Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina) feeding on banana flowers. Image credit: Julian Schneider New research reveals there is a stark difference between the gut bacteria of nectar-feeding bats foraging in conventional monoculture banana plantations and those bats who forage in their natural forest habitat or organic plantations. This is the first study to show an association between habitat alteration, sustainable agriculture and the gut microbiota of wildlife. Nectar-feeding bats foraging in intensively managed banana plantations in Costa Rica have a less diverse set of gut microbes in comparison to bats feeding in their natural forest habitat or organic plantations, reveals new research published today in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. This the first study to show an association between habitat alteration, sustainable agriculture and the gut microbiota of wildlife. “Organic and conventional monoculture banana plantations both provide a very reliable food source for some nectar-feeding bat species. However, bats foraging in the intensively managed plantations had a reduced diversity of gut microbes, which could be a sign of gut dysbiosis, an unhealthy imbalance of its microbial symbionts,” explains Priscilla Alpízar, first author of this study, a doctoral student at the Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and […]