Microbial community development in a dynamic gut model is reproducible, colon region specific, and selective for Bacteroidetes and Clostridium cluster IX

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Aug;76(15):5237-46. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00759-10. Epub 2010 Jun 18.


Dynamic, multicompartment in vitro gastrointestinal simulators are often used to monitor gut microbial dynamics and activity. These reactors need to harbor a microbial community that is stable upon inoculation, colon region specific, and relevant to in vivo conditions. Together with the reproducibility of the colonization process, these criteria are often overlooked when the modulatory properties from different treatments are compared. We therefore investigated the microbial colonization process in two identical simulators of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem (SHIME), simultaneously inoculated with the same human fecal microbiota with a high-resolution phylogenetic microarray: the human intestinal tract chip (HITChip). Following inoculation of the in vitro colon compartments, microbial community composition reached steady state after 2 weeks, whereas 3 weeks were required to reach functional stability. This dynamic colonization process was reproducible in both SHIME units and resulted in highly diverse microbial communities which were colon region specific, with the proximal regions harboring saccharolytic microbes (e.g., Bacteroides spp. and Eubacterium spp.) and the distal regions harboring mucin-degrading microbes (e.g., Akkermansia spp.). Importantly, the shift from an in vivo to an in vitro environment resulted in an increased Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes ratio, whereas Clostridium cluster IX (propionate producers) was enriched compared to clusters IV and XIVa (butyrate producers). This was supported by proportionally higher in vitro propionate concentrations. In conclusion, high-resolution analysis of in vitro-cultured gut microbiota offers new insight on the microbial colonization process and indicates the importance of digestive parameters that may be crucial in the development of new in vitro models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroidetes / growth & development*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Clostridium / growth & development*
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Metagenome*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Selection, Genetic*