• The human gut microbiota comprises around 1000 phylotypes (reviewed in ref. [1]).
  • The bacteria present in the gut make an important contribution to net metabolic transformations executed in the gut [2] and to a diverse range of health-related activities such as pain perception [3], and cognitive function [4].
  • There is an increasing body of evidence linking alterations in the human gut microbiota with Inflammatory Bowel Disease [5, 6] and Irritable Bowel Syndrome [7].
  • The changing pattern of the gut microbiota in elderly subjects [8, 9] may be linked to host changes such as immunosenescence, increased susceptibility to disease, and potentially systemic effects.
  • The composition of the intestinal microbiota may be modulated by dietary components including prebiotics [10].
  • We will determine the baseline composition of the gut microbiota of several hundred elderly Irish subjects using a combination of molecular (culture-independent) methodologies including next-generation 454 pyrosequencing and Shotgun sequencing technology.
  • We will explore potential correlations between microbiota composition and a range of health indices.
  • We will cross reference data to dietary intake.
  • Data will be analyzed in the context of the related FHRI projects in Nutrigenomics, Food Consumption, Food Safety, and Diet-Health.
  • We will provide recommendations to all stakeholders (incl. subjects, health practitioners, food industry) on how to improve health based on defined modifications to dietary intake.


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  2. Gill, S.R., et al., Metagenomic analysis of the human distal gut microbiome. Science, 2006. 312(5778): p. 1355-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16741115
  3. Rousseaux, C., et al., Lactobacillus acidophilus modulates intestinal pain and induces opioid and cannabinoid receptors. Nat Med, 2007. 13(1): p. 35-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17159985
  4. Sudo, N., Y. Chida, and Y. Aiba, Postnatal microbial colonisation programs the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system for stress response in mice. J Physiol, 2004. 558: p. 263-275. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15133062
  5. Frank, D.N., et al., Molecular-phylogenetic characterization of microbial community imbalances in human inflammatory bowel diseases. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A, 2007. 104(34): p. 13780-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17699621
  6. Manichanh, C., et al., Reduced diversity of faecal microbiota in Crohn’s disease revealed by a metagenomic approach. Gut, 2006. 55(2): p. 205-11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16188921
  7. Kassinen, A., et al., The fecal microbiota of irritable bowel syndrome patients differs significantly from that of healthy subjects. Gastroenterology, 2007. 133(1): p. 24-33. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17631127
  8. Guigoz, Y., J. Dore, and E.J. Schiffrin, The inflammatory status of old age can be nurtured from the intestinal environment. Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care, 2008. 11(1): p. 13-20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090652
  9. Woodmansey, E.J., Intestinal bacteria and ageing. J. Appl. Microbiol., 2007. 102(5): p. 1178-86. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17448153
  10. Gibson, G.R. and M.B. Roberfroid, Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. J. Nutr., 1995. 125(6): p. 1401-12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7782892