A Vall d'Hebron study suggests the influence of diet on the composition and function of microbiota fungi

This work sets the basis for future research aimed at a deeper understanding of the microbiota and the effect of nutrition.


The gut microbiota and its relationship to health is a topic of growing interest in recent years. Until now, research has mainly focused on the role of bacteria, but the microbiota also includes fungi, which constitute less than 1% of the total number of microorganisms in the gut. Because of their low presence, their study represents a challenge. A study led by the Microbiome Research Group at Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) shows the usefulness of a new protocol to analyse intestinal fungi from faecal samples. The study has been published in the journal Microbiome and highlights the influence of diet on the diversity of fungi in the microbiota.

The work, carried out in collaboration with Dr Christophe d'Enfert, scientific director of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, lays the basis for the study of fungi in the microbiota. "We are pioneers in using techniques to globally analyse the composition and function of bacteria and fungi in the microbiota, and we hope that our work will serve as a reference for future research involving these analyses", explains Dr Chaysavanh Manichanh, head of the Microbiome Research group at VHIR.

To this end, in previous studies, the team also proposed one of the most comprehensive databases of information on microbiota fungi. This tool continues to expand thanks to new analyses and is available in open access with the aim of sharing these findings with other professionals researching in the field.

Diet and microbiota: the influence of food groups

Subsequently, the research also focused on analysing the influence of diet on the composition and function of the microbiota. In this respect, no correlation has been observed with a person's overall diet, for example, depending on whether they are vegetarian or vegan. "We have, however, seen a relationship between consuming certain food groups (such as sweets, protein or iron) and a change in the microbiota. This shows that, depending on what you eat, you can impact the composition and function of gut bacteria and fungi", says Dr Manichanh.

This analysis, carried out on only six people so far, has allowed the development of tools to analyse the effect of nutrition on the microbiota. To confirm this relationship and gain a deeper understanding of the effect of food on specific bacterial and fungal species and their impact on health, the group is leading a population-based study involving more than 1,000 people.

Search for volunteers to study dietary habits and microbiota

The Microbiome Research group is looking for volunteers to advance in these population-based projects that hope to evaluate the composition of the microbiota in people in relation to various food groups. If you want to participate, you can find more information here. We are mainly looking for people from outside Catalonia.

This study is part of the European project FunOMIC, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska‑Curie Action, Innovative Training Network (grant number 812969).

The research shows a relationship between consuming certain food groups (such as sweets, protein or iron) and a change in the microbiota.

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