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What do humans & pigs have in common?
Dr Hauke Smidt (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) explained what are the molecular methods to explore the microbiome. Microbial community not only refers to the microorganisms involved but also encompass their theatre of activity, which results in the formation of specific ecological niches. Intestinal bacterial populations have various roles : digesting food, supplying nutrients, altering gut physiology, and protecting against pathogens.
Modern techniques aim to characterize the composition and the function of microbiomes :
Deep sequencing of faecal DNA samples from pig farms in France, Denmark and China generated 1 758 Gb of high-quality data, identifying 7,7 million of non-redundant genes. The pig gut metagenome catalogue was compared to the mouse and the integrated human gut metagenome catalogues.
Even if a very low percentage of genes was shared between the three species, 96 % of the functional pathways found in the human gut metagenome are present in the pig gut catalogue, supporting the use of the pig as a model for functional studies on the role of the microbiome in health and disease.