Centenarians' Diverse Gut Virome: Potential to modulate metabolism and promote healthy lifespan


News Release, International Society of Microbiota, France – June 7, 2023

Distinct gut microbiome ecology may be implicated in the prevention of aging-related diseases as it influences systemic immune function and resistance to infections. Yet, the viral component of the microbiome throughout different stages in life remains unexplored.

In their recent study published in Nature Microbiology, Johansen et al., from Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, presented a characterization of the centenarian gut virome using previously published metagenomes from 195 individuals from Japan and Sardinia.

The research team showed that, compared with gut viromes of younger adults (>18 yr) and older individuals (>60 yr), centenarians had a more diverse virome including previously undescribed viral genera, such as viruses associated with Clostridia. A population shift towards higher lytic activity was also observed.

They investigated phage-encoded auxiliary functions that influence bacterial physiology, which revealed an enrichment of genes supporting key steps in sulfate metabolic pathways. Phage and bacterial members of the centenarian microbiome displayed an increased potential for converting methionine to homocysteine, sulfate to sulfide and taurine to sulfide. A greater metabolic output of microbial hydrogen sulfide in centenarians may in turn support mucosal integrity and resistance to pathobionts.

These results reveal the complicated interplay between viruses, bacteria and their human hosts, and sheds light on the mechanisms by which a diverse gut ecosystem can promote health.

Article DOI.

Prof. Edeas, chairman of the ISM scientific committee, after his talk about phage and microbiota modulation in the Phage Therapy 2023 Meeting confirms that phages will be the most strategic factor to modulate and control microbiome homeostasis.

Prof. Edeas stated: "One unanswered question is what is the exact role of prophages which are located inside bacteria to shape the microbiome? and What are the factors that activate them?"

The virome will be highlighted and discussed thoroughly during Targeting Microbiota 2023 this October in Venice. Submit a related abstract.

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International Society of Microbiota

Targeting Microbiota 2023 Congress
October 17-19, 2023 
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