You may not know: The human gut contains more than 140,000 virus species

New research identifies more than 140,000 virus species living in the human gut, more than half of which have never been seen before.

The report was published in the journal Cell on February 18 after researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI) and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) analyzed more than 28,000 samples of the gut microbiome. of humans collected in different parts of the world.

Viruses are the most biological entities on the planet. The human gut is also known to be an incredibly biodiverse environment, but finding more than 140,000 viruses in this study, with more than half of which had never been seen, still shocked scientists. surprised. The data opens up new research directions to better understand the impact of viruses living in the gut on human health.

“The most important thing to note is that not all viruses are harmful, and they represent an integral component of the gut ecosystem . Most of the viruses we found had DNA as their host. In addition, samples of the gut microbiota were mainly obtained from healthy individuals who did not have any specific diseases. It’s exciting to see how many unknown species live in our guts and shed light on the link between them and human health,” said Dr Alexandre Almeida, Postdoctoral Fellow at EMBL-EBI. know.

You may not know: The human gut contains more than 140,000 virus species
Illustration of a virus attacking bacteria in the human intestinal tract. (Photo: WSI).

Among the tens of thousands of new viruses, the team identified a common lineage – believed to have a common ancestor – and named them Gubaphage . It is the second most common virus strain in the human intestine, after crAssphage was discovered in 2014.

Both appear to attack similar gut bacteria, but further studies are needed to know the exact function of the newly discovered strain of Gubaphage .

“An important aspect of our work is to ensure the highest quality reconstructed viral genomes. A rigorous quality control system coupled with a machine learning approach allows us to collect High-quality viral genome paves the way to better understand the role of viruses in our gut microbiome, including the development of new treatments such as antibiotics from a bacteriophage origin,” emphasized Dr. Luis F. Camarillo-Guerrero, co-author of the study from WSI.