The human microbiome is a consortium of microorganisms living on and in our bodies. There are more microbial cells in our body than human cells and microbial genes outnumber our own 30:1. These microbial symbionts contribute to development and health, but we have little understanding of the role of many species within these diverse microbial consortia. My laboratory studies how metabolites from the microbiome shape our health and disease. We are studying the role of specific members of the microbiome in producing and modifying our bodies metabolome. Although we are only beginning to understand the breadth of the molecular communication with our microbial symbionts, certain molecular groups, such as bile acids, represent an important dialect of this diverse metabolic language. These bile acids are altered during development and malnutrition of the neonate has unique effects on the chemistry of our bile and how microbes interact with it.
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