Microbes inside--from diversity to function: the case of Akkermansia

ISME J. 2012 Aug;6(8):1449-58. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.6. Epub 2012 Mar 22.


The human intestinal tract is colonized by a myriad of microbes that have developed intimate interactions with the host. In healthy individuals, this complex ecosystem remains stable and resilient to stressors. There is significant attention on the understanding of the composition and function of this intestinal microbiota in health and disease. Current developments in metaomics and systems biology approaches allow to probe the functional potential and activity of the intestinal microbiota. However, all these approaches inherently suffer from the fact that the information on macromolecules (DNA, RNA and protein) is collected at the ecosystem level. Similarly, all physiological and other information collected from isolated strains relates to pure cultures grown in vitro or in gnotobiotic systems. It is essential to integrate these two worlds of predominantly chemistry and biology by linking the molecules to the cells. Here, we will address the integration of omics- and culture-based approaches with the complexity of the human intestinal microbiota in mind and the mucus-degrading bacteria Akkermansia spp. as a paradigm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria* / classification
  • Bacteria* / genetics
  • Bacteria* / metabolism
  • Biodiversity*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Verrucomicrobia* / classification
  • Verrucomicrobia* / genetics
  • Verrucomicrobia* / metabolism