An analysis of bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, in the human gut provides evidence that some common bacteriophages may help support human health. Researchers have previously suggested that most human gut microbial communities are comprised of similar microbial groups that perform comparable functions. However, few studies of healthy human gut microbiomes have focused on bacteriophages. To investigate whether humans share bacteriophage communities, called phageomes, Mark Young and colleagues analyzed bacteriophage DNA from stool samples of two healthy people, ages 26 and 55, as well as a bacteriophage DNA dataset from a previous study of 62 healthy people and 102 people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease who lived in Boston, Chicago, or Cambridge, United Kingdom. The authors identified 23 bacteriophages shared by more than half of the 64 healthy people. Compared with healthy people, fewer individuals with gastrointestinal diseases carried the shared bacteriophages. Taxonomic network analyses identified 44 groups of bacteriophages in the healthy people, and more than half of the healthy people shared nine of these groups. According to the authors, common bacteriophage groups may be globally distributed and play a role in maintaining the structure and function of a healthy human gut microbiome. - Read at PNAS.org
Article #16-01060: “Healthy human gut phageome,” by Pilar Manrique et al.