According to a new study, each person’s gut virus composition is unique, just like fingerprints. This is the first study to come up with a comprehensive database about the human digestive tract viruses.
Gut viruses unique to each individual
Researchers from Ohio State University came up with the gut microbe database, which identified around 33,242 unique virus populations in the gut. Usually, viruses in the human digestive tract are hard to detect and are referred to as dark matter. According to the scientists who analyzed the subjects’ guts, there was a wide range of microbes in the gut present in childhood and old age mirroring bacterial change. However, this latest discovery shouldn’t be worrying as most of the viromes do not cause diseases.
Understanding the natures of gut viruses could offer more insight into the gastrointestinal symptoms of coronavirus. Co-author and postdoctoral microbiology researcher Olivier Zablocki stated that characterizing the viromes that make human health could offer more information on designing future therapies for pathogens resistant to antibiotics and drugs.
Viruses found in the gut co-exist with host microbes
Unlike gut bacteria, gut viruses do not have any common gene sequence, which makes them hard to detect. The scientists employed data from 32 studies evaluating gut viromes in 1,986 participants from 16 countries. Outcomes from the studies indicated that although there were some shared viral populations, there was no major viral group for all humans. Enhanced diversity of the viruses in the gut implies that the individual is healthy.
Around 97.7% of the population were phages that infect and kill bacteria, but instead of killing host cells, the phages can co-exist with host microbes. Equally, they produce genes that can help host cells in competing and surviving. Most importantly, gut viruses are unique, and their diversity increases with age and will start to drop at 65 years. This configuration matches bacterial gut diversity in infants. But since infants’ immunity system is underdeveloped, their guts have different types of viruses and a few types of bacteria.