Integrated culturing, modeling and transcriptomics uncovers complex interactions and emergent behavior in a three-species synthetic gut community


The composition of the human gut microbiome is well resolved, but predictive understanding of its dynamics is still lacking. Here, we followed a bottom-up strategy to explore human gut community dynamics; we established a synthetic community composed of three representative human gut isolates (Roseburia intestinalis L1-82, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii A2-165 and Blautia hydrogenotrophica S5a33) and explored their interactions under well-controlled conditions in vitro. Systematic mono- and pair-wise fermentation experiments confirmed competition for fructose and cross-feeding of formate. We quantified with a mechanistic model how well tri-culture dynamics was predicted from mono-culture data. With the model as reference, we demonstrated that strains grown in co-culture behaved differently than those in mono-culture and confirmed their altered behavior at the transcriptional level. In addition, we showed with replicate tri-cultures and simulations that dominance in tri-culture sensitively depends on the initial conditions. Our work has important implications for gut microbial community modeling as well as for ecological interaction detection from batch cultures.

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Verónica Lloréns-Rico
Verónica Lloréns-Rico
Group Leader

My research interests include bacterial gene regulation and the human microbiome.