People who are overweight may have different gut bacteria from those in their slender fellow human beings. This is the contention of Willem de Vos, professor of Microbiology in his dies lecture on 9 March.
Because we have so many bacteria in us - we have more bacteria than body cells - our bacterial metabolism is very complex. Most of the bacteria have not been mapped genetically, but a genome revolution is currently going on to establish the roles of bacteria and bacteria communities, added De Vos. The challenging part, the professor continued, is how to analyze the enormous sets of data using just one system approach in order to get a model of the bacteria communities which researchers can then improve on during experiments.
Doing this could eventually enable personal nutrition advice to be given based on gut bacteria. There is also a somewhat unappetizing treatment method for the stubbornly obese patient: the poop transplant, or - in nicer terms - the bacteria treatment. Research carried out by De Vos together with the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam has shown that such a bacteria transplant can have a curative effect in people prone to being obese.