A high-fat diet changes fungi in the gut and may play a role in the development of obesity, according to a new study in mSphere, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. While gut microbes have previously been implicated in the development of obesity, this study shows that fungi may also play a role.
“We really need to be looking at all the microbes and how they are interacting with each other to get a full picture of what the microbiome structure and function is in a given individual,” said principal investigator Cheryl Gale, MD, associate professor in in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.
In recent years, research has revealed that gut microbes are involved in the development of obesity, but characterization of microbiota in lean versus obese individuals has been dominated by studies of gut bacteria, ignoring the potential contributions of fungi on metabolic health. “Fungi have recently been shown to affect gut inflammation,” said Dr. Gale. Although they represent a small component of the microbiota, fungal communities are significant in that they potentially serve as a reservoir for pathogens as well as for keystone species with critical roles in maintaining the function of the gut microbiome. (image: bacteria in the gut, from NIAID)