• Comparative Genomic Analysis Reveals a Diverse Repertoire of Genes Involved in Prokaryote-Eukaryote Interactions within the Pseudovibrio Genus

      Romano, Stefano; Fernandez-Guerra, Antonio; Reen, F. Jerry; Glockner, Frank O.; Crowley, Susan P.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Cotter, Paul D.; Adams, Claire; Dobson, Alan D. W.; O'Gara, Fergal; et al. (Frontiers Media S. A., 30/03/2016)
      Strains of the Pseudovibrio genus have been detected worldwide, mainly as part of bacterial communities associated with marine invertebrates, particularly sponges. This recurrent association has been considered as an indication of a symbiotic relationship between these microbes and their host. Until recently, the availability of only two genomes, belonging to closely related strains, has limited the knowledge on the genomic and physiological features of the genus to a single phylogenetic lineage. Here we present 10 newly sequenced genomes of Pseudovibrio strains isolated from marine sponges from the west coast of Ireland, and including the other two publicly available genomes we performed an extensive comparative genomic analysis. Homogeneity was apparent in terms of both the orthologous genes and the metabolic features shared amongst the 12 strains. At the genomic level, a key physiological difference observed amongst the isolates was the presence only in strain P. axinellae AD2 of genes encoding proteins involved in assimilatory nitrate reduction, which was then proved experimentally. We then focused on studying those systems known to be involved in the interactions with eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. This analysis revealed that the genus harbors a large diversity of toxin-like proteins, secretion systems and their potential effectors. Their distribution in the genus was not always consistent with the phylogenetic relationship of the strains. Finally, our analyses identified new genomic islands encoding potential toxin-immunity systems, previously unknown in the genus. Our analyses shed new light on the Pseudovibrio genus, indicating a large diversity of both metabolic features and systems for interacting with the host. The diversity in both distribution and abundance of these systems amongst the strains underlines how metabolically and phylogenetically similar bacteria may use different strategies to interact with the host and find a niche within its microbiota. Our data suggest the presence of a sponge-specific lineage of Pseudovibrio. The reduction in genome size and the loss of some systems potentially used to successfully enter the host, leads to the hypothesis that P. axinellae strain AD2 may be a lineage that presents an ancient association with the host and that may be vertically transmitted to the progeny.
    • Food for thought: The role of nutrition in the microbiota-gut–brain axis

      Oriach, Clara Seira; Robertson, Ruairi C.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cryan, John F.; Dinan, Timothy G.; Science Foundation Ireland; Health Research Board of Ireland; Sea Change Strategy; NutraMara programme; SMART FOOD project; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2016-04)
      Recent research has provided strong evidence for the role of the commensal gut microbiota in brain function and behaviour. Many potential pathways are involved in this bidirectional communication between the gut microbiota and the brain such as immune mechanisms, the vagus nerve and microbial neurometabolite production. Dysbiosis of gut microbial function has been associated with behavioural and neurophysical deficits, therefore research focused on developing novel therapeutic strategies to treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut microbiota is rapidly growing. Numerous factors can influence the gut microbiota composition such as health status, mode of birth delivery and genetics, but diet is considered among the most crucial factors impacting on the human gut microbiota from infancy to old age. Thus, dietary interventions may have the potential to modulate psychiatric symptoms associated with gut–brain axis dysfunction. Further clinical and in vivo studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the link between nutrition, gut microbiota and control of behaviour and mental health.
    • Food for thought: The role of nutrition in the microbiota-gut–brain axis

      Oriach, Clara Seira; Robertson, Ruairi C; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cryan, John F.; Dinan, Timothy G.; Science Foundation Ireland; Health Research Board of Ireland; Sea Change Strategy NutraMara programme; SMART FOOD project; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Elsevier, 2016-01-21)
      Recent research has provided strong evidence for the role of the commensal gut microbiota in brain function and behaviour. Many potential pathways are involved in this bidirectional communication between the gut microbiota and the brain such as immune mechanisms, the vagus nerve and microbial neurometabolite production. Dysbiosis of gut microbial function has been associated with behavioural and neurophysical deficits, therefore research focused on developing novel therapeutic strategies to treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut microbiota is rapidly growing. Numerous factors can influence the gut microbiota composition such as health status, mode of birth delivery and genetics, but diet is considered among the most crucial factors impacting on the human gut microbiota from infancy to old age. Thus, dietary interventions may have the potential to modulate psychiatric symptoms associated with gut–brain axis dysfunction. Further clinical and in vivo studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the link between nutrition, gut microbiota and control of behaviour and mental health.
    • Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative (NutraMara)

      Troy, Declan J.; Tiwari, Brijesh K; Hayes, Maria; Ross, R Paul; STANTON, CATHERINE; Johnson, Mark; Stengel, Dagmar; O'Doherty, John V.; Fitzgerald, Richard J.; McSorley, Emeir; et al. (Marine Institute, 2017-12)
      The NutraMara – Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative was conceived by Sea Change - A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007-2013. The goal was to develop a collaborative funding mechanism that would create new research capacity and build the capabilities required to maximise the potential of Ireland’s extensive marine bioresources. By supporting a strong interdisciplinary research team, capable of exploring marine animals and plants as a sustainable source of materials for use as functional ingredients and foods, the vision for NutraMara was to position Ireland to the fore in use of marine bioresources as health beneficial ingredients. Commencing in 2008 and supported by funds of €5.2 million from the Marine Institute and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the research programme was led by Teagasc as the head of a multi-institutional consortium. The NutraMara consortium comprises marine bioresources and bioscience expertise, with food science and technology expertise from University College Cork; University College Dublin; the National University of Ireland Galway; the University of Limerick and Ulster University. Research effort was directed towards exploring Ireland’s marine bioresources – including macro- and microalgae, finfish and shellfish from wild and cultured sources: and discards from processing fish as sources of novel ingredients with bioactive characteristics. This discovery activity involved the collection of over 600 samples from 39 species of algae and fish and the analysis of 5,800 extracts, which resulted in 3,000 positive “hits” for bioactivity. The NutraMara consortium has built a strong research capacity to identify, characterise and evaluate marine-origin bioactives for use as/in functional foods. It further built the capacity to develop model foods enhanced with these marine-origin functional ingredients; providing insights to the processing challenges associated with producing functional ingredients from marine organisms. The consortium was actively engaged in research activities designed to identify and assess bioactive compounds from available marine resources, including polyphenols, proteins/peptides, amino acids, polysaccharides, polyunsaturated fatty acids and materials with antioxidant, probiotic or prebiotic properties. A key component of NutraMara’s activities was the development of human capital. The recruitment of M.Sc. and PhD students and their integration within a dynamic research environment that has strong links to industry, provided lasting expertise and capabilities, which are relevant to the needs of Ireland’s food and marine sectors. NutraMara research led to the awarding of eighteen PhDs and recruitment of 21 post-doctoral researchers over the eight year research programme. In excess of 80 peer reviewed publications resulted from this research and more publications are planned. A further 100 posters and conference presentations were also delivered by NutraMara researchers and Principal Investigators. The development and implementation of training and exchange programmes aimed at providing early stage researchers with inter-disciplinary skills that are critical to their development as researchers, enhanced the research capacity of institutions, the industry sectors and the country as a whole. Principal Investigators involved in leading the NutraMara research programme have secured additional research grants of almost €6 million from national and international sources and are engaged in extensive research collaboration involving marine and food research expertise; an activity which did not exist prior to NutraMara. The dissemination of knowledge and transfer of research results to industry were key activities in the research programme. The research outputs and visibility of NutraMara activity nationally resulted in 10 companies engaging in research and development activity with the consortium. Regular workshops and conferences organised by NutraMara attracted close to five hundred participants from Ireland and overseas. Members of the NutraMara core PI group have contributed to the formulation of new national foods and marine research policy and national research agenda, both during the national prioritisation exercise and in sectoral research strategies. This final project report describes the process by which research targets were identified, and the results of extensive screening and evaluation of compounds extracted from marine bioresources. It also highlights the development of new protocols designed to extract compounds in ways that are food friendly. Evaluating the functional properties, bioactivity and bioavailability of high potential marine compounds involved in vitro and in vivo testing. Pilot animal and human intervention studies yielded further insight to the potential and challenges in developing marine functional ingredients. As a result of work completed within the NutraMara consortium, Ireland is well positioned to continue to contribute to the development of ingredients derived from marine organisms and in doing so support the on-going development of Ireland’s food sector.
    • Maternal omega-3 fatty acids regulate offspring obesity through persistent modulation of gut microbiota

      Robertson, Ruairi C; Kaliannan, Kanakaraju; Strain, Conall R.; Ross, R Paul; STANTON, CATHERINE; Kang, Jing X.; Science Foundation Ireland; Health Research Board; NutraMara programme; SMART FOOD project; et al. (BMC, 2018-05-24)
      Background: The early-life gut microbiota plays a critical role in host metabolism in later life. However, little is known about how the fatty acid profile of the maternal diet during gestation and lactation influences the development of the offspring gut microbiota and subsequent metabolic health outcomes. Results: Here, using a unique transgenic model, we report that maternal endogenous n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) production during gestation or lactation significantly reduces weight gain and markers of metabolic disruption in male murine offspring fed a high-fat diet. However, maternal fatty acid status appeared to have no significant effect on weight gain in female offspring. The metabolic phenotypes in male offspring appeared to be mediated by comprehensive restructuring of gut microbiota composition. Reduced maternal n-3 PUFA exposure led to significantly depleted Epsilonproteobacteria, Bacteroides, and Akkermansia and higher relative abundance of Clostridia. Interestingly, offspring metabolism and microbiota composition were more profoundly influenced by the maternal fatty acid profile during lactation than in utero. Furthermore, the maternal fatty acid profile appeared to have a long-lasting effect on offspring microbiota composition and function that persisted into adulthood after life-long high-fat diet feeding. Conclusions: Our data provide novel evidence that weight gain and metabolic dysfunction in adulthood is mediated by maternal fatty acid status through long-lasting restructuring of the gut microbiota. These results have important implications for understanding the interaction between modern Western diets, metabolic health, and the intestinal microbiome.
    • Prawn Shell Chitosan Has Anti-Obesogenic Properties, Influencing Both Nutrient Digestibility and Microbial Populations in a Pig Model

      Egan, Aine M.; Sweeney, Torres; Hayes, Maria; O'Doherty, John V.; Marine Institute; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; MFFRI/07/01 (PLOS, 04/12/2015)
      The potential of natural products to prevent obesity have been investigated, with evidence to suggest that chitosan has anti-obesity effects. The current experiment investigated the anti-obesity potential of prawn shell derived chitosan on a range of variables relevant to obesity in a pig model. The two dietary treatment groups included in this 63 day study were: T1) basal diet and T2) basal diet plus 1000 ppm chitosan (n = 20 gilts per group (70 ± 0.90 kg). The parameter categories which were assessed included: performance, nutrient digestibility, serum leptin concentrations, nutrient transporter and digestive enzyme gene expression and gut microbial populations. Pigs offered chitosan had reduced feed intake and final body weight (P< 0.001), lower ileal digestibility of dry matter (DM), gross energy (GE) (P< 0.05) and reduced coefficient of apparent total tract digestibility (CATTD) of gross energy and nitrogen (P<0.05) when compared to the basal group. Fatty acid binding protein 2 (FABP2) gene expression was down-regulated in pigs offered chitosan (P = 0.05) relative to the basal diet. Serum leptin concentrations increased (P< 0.05) in animals offered the chitosan diet compared to pigs offered the basal diet. Fatness traits, back-fat depth (mm), fat content (kg), were significantly reduced while lean meat (%) was increased (P<0.05) in chitosan supplemented pigs. Pigs offered chitosan had decreased numbers of Firmicutes in the colon (P <0.05), and Lactobacillus spp. in both the caecum (P <0.05) and colon (P <0.001). Bifidobacteria populations were increased in the caecum of animals offered the chitosan diet (P <0.05). In conclusion, these findings suggest that prawn shell chitosan has potent anti-obesity/body weight control effects which are mediated through multiple biological systems in vivo.