Collection |

Chemical Biology of Microbiomes

Interspecies communication in complex microbiome environments occurs through the small molecules, peptides, and proteins produced by both the host and the microbial residents, as highlighted in this collection of recent articles from Nature Portfolio. The molecular nature of these interactions makes chemical biology approaches well-suited to the study and manipulation of their downstream effects on host health and microbiome composition.

Metabolism

An analysis of the interactions between 15 drugs and 25 gut bacterial strains shows that bioaccumulation of drugs within bacterial cells is another mechanism through which gut microorganisms can alter drug availability and efficacy.

Article | | Nature

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are associated with increased faecal N-acylethanolamines (NAEs), which are primarily host-produced signalling lipids, in patients and a mouse model of colitis. These metabolites can enhance the growth of bacterial species enriched in IBD faecal samples and are associated with the expression of respiratory chain genes necessary for microbial metabolism of NAEs.

Article | | Nature Microbiology

The gut microbiota contributes to host physiology through the production of a myriad of metabolites. In this Review, Bäckhed and colleagues discuss the major classes of microbial metabolites, highlight examples of how microbial metabolites affect host health and provide a potential framework for integration of discovery-based metabolite studies with mechanistic work.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Microbiology

Ceramides are a type of sphingolipid (SL) that have been shown to play a role in several metabolic disorders. Here, the authors investigate the effect of SL-production by gut Bacteroides on host SL homeostasis and show that microbiome-derived SLs enter host circulation and alter ceramide production.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

The biosynthetic pathway that produces the secondary bile acids DCA and LCA in human gut microbes has been fully characterized, engineered into another bacterial host, and used to confer DCA production in germ-free mice—an important proof-of-principle for the engineering of gut microbial pathways.

Article | | Nature

Microorganisms produce and excrete an array of metabolites with different physico-chemical properties and biological activities. In this Review, Garbeva and colleagues highlight recent discoveries concerning microbial volatile compounds and their roles in intra-kingdom and inter-kingdom communication, and discuss the potential biotechnological applications of microbial volatiles, as well as challenges and perspectives in this emerging research field.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Microbiology

Immunity and Infection

The microbiota of centenarians (aged 100 years and older) comprise gut microorganisms that are capable of generating unique secondary bile acids, including isoallolithocholic acid, a bile acid with potent antimicrobial effects against Gram-positive—but not Gram-negative—multidrug-resistant pathogens.

Article | | Nature

An analysis of gut microbiomes of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer reveals an association between Bifidobacterium bifidum abundance and response to cancer therapy. In murine models of syngeneic tumours, administration of commercial B. bifidum strains synergizes with immune checkpoint blockade to reduce tumour burden, but the therapeutic potential of B. bifidum is affected by strain-level variation.

Letter | | Nature Microbiology

Small antibacterial molecules termed bacteriocins can influence microbiome composition by providing an advantage to bacteriocin producers over bacteriocin-sensitive strains. In this Review, Peschel and colleagues provide an overview of the types of bacteriocins, their costs and benefits, and how they may provide new avenues for antibacterial drug development.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Microbiology

Gut-Brain Axis

In this Review, Morais, Schreiber and Mazmanian discuss emerging and exciting evidence of intricate and potentially important connections between the gut microbiota and the brain involving multiple biological systems, and possible contributions by the gut microbiota to complex behaviours.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Microbiology

Microbiome Engineering

Fecal microbiota transplantation and probiotics have been tested/used as potential therapeutics against inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Here the authors use a bottom-up rational consortium design approach that combines well-characterized strains isolated from healthy human stool samples to produce two consortia of metabolically interdependent strains for the treatment of IBD.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications