An OSU professor working with the Swiss team made a breakthrough in health

2022 Wednesday, May 18th

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Senior Research Communication Specialist 405-744-5827 |

Escherichia coli is known as a dangerous and terrible bacterium, and can be, but many do not realize that most of their species E. coli bacteria are harmless.

Everyone has E. coli living in their colon at the moment and if those beneficial populations remain healthy and strong, it will be much more difficult for the harmful ones E. coli to settle.

Dr. Tyrrell Conway

How the microorganism works, what it feeds on and its life cycle is what the Oklahoma State University team has been researching for more than 20 years, and their knowledge was exactly what the Swiss team needed to help them carry out innovative research, the journal recently published. Science.

The Swiss researchers who led the study found this E. coli responds to near-starvation diets by activating genes that allow bacteria to grow on sugar acids.

The paper “Non-invasive assessment of intestinal function using transcriptional recording control cells” described the findings of a breakthrough CRISPR-based technology called Record-Seq.

“It simply came to our notice then E. coli is doing in response to a change in diet, ”Conway said. “That’s what they can watch with this Record-Seq system.

While the Swiss team worked with E. coli and by changing the diet, sugar acids have emerged as a source of nutrients, Conway said.

“We have 30 articles on such things,” he said. “So if you google sugar and E. coli and colonization, one by one you will find our newspapers.

But so far, non-invasive monitoring of the bacteria as they move through the digestive system has been impossible, Conway said.

This new Record-Seq system was invented by Dr. Randy Platt, the author of the publication Science – may, however, take faecal samples and see each step of the journey by determining the DNA sequence E. coli enters through our digestive system.

“It simply came to our notice then E. coli responding to diets high in fat or high in starch by turning on the metabolism of sugar acids, ”Conway said. “Then we started working together on the experiments that are in that document, and I presented the strains.

However, this was not the first time Conway had met with the Swiss team.

“Our collaboration began four years ago when I met Andrew MacPherson during a visit to ETH Zurich,” Conway said. “Andrew is running an extremely productive microbial research program in Bern, Switzerland.

According to him, the two spent the whole afternoon talking about the colonization of the gut in a detail that only a few in the world would understand.

“None of us then imagined that we would ever work together on this project. “Record-Seq hasn’t been invented yet,” Conway said.

The experiments that Conway and his team helped create show that Record-Seq technology captures events that can only be seen using the new technology, he said.

This is the next step in understanding foodborne illnesses and their life cycles.

Researchers hope that if we can understand how E. coli moving through our bodies and what they eat, we can make sure they are healthy E. coli is.

“This study really aims to understand the physiology of a healthy person
E. coli“Conway said. “Because they are a barrier to being infected with the bacteria that cause diarrhea.”

With people dying every day around the world since E. coliwith an associated illness that can save lives.

“So we’d like to know what it takes to promote a healthy and resilient microbiota,” Conway said. “What does it look like and how can it be done using prebiotics? What can we eat to grow a healthy, resistant microbiota.

Godfrey Kemp

"Bacon fanatic. Social media enthusiast. Music practitioner. Internet scholar. Incurable travel advocate. Wannabe web junkie. Coffeeaholic. Alcohol fanatic."

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