A refined palate: Bacterial consumption of host glycans in the gut

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The human intestine houses a dense microbial ecosystem in which the struggle for nutrients creates a continual and dynamic selective force. Host-produced mucus glycans provide a ubiquitous source of carbon and energy for microbial species. Not surprisingly, many gut resident bacteria have become highly adapted to efficiently consume numerous distinct structures present in host glycans. We propose that sophistication in mucus consumption is a trait most likely to be found in gut residents that have co-evolved with hosts, microbes that have adapted to the complexity associated with the host glycan landscape.

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