Microbial Ecology of Health. Coordinator: Brigidi

Understanding the role of the human intestinal microbiota in our physiology and evolutionary history is the main mission of the research group. The study of the animal microbiota and plant-associated microbial communities are other research lines.

The Human Superorganism

Human beings have been reconsidered as superorganisms in co-evolution with their microbial communities. Ten to 100 trillion microbes inhabit our gastrointestinal tract, constituting the gut microbiota. Their collective genome (microbiome) is estimated to contain >150 times as many genes as the human genome, and encodes functions we have not evolved on our own.

Through an extensive microbial-host crosstalk, the gut microbiota strongly influences our physiology and metabolic phenotype. In addition to increasing energy harvest from ingested food and providing vitamins, the microbiota improves the barrier function, is critical to the development and functionality of our immune system, and modulates the endocrine and central nervous system.

Plant Microbiota

Plant-associated microbial communities are critical to several ecological and biogeochemical processes, such as mineral uptake, pathogen protection, phytoremediation, etc., with ultimate repercussions on agriculture sustainability and environment.

Animal Microbiota

Like humans, animals host vast microbial communities. Exploring their microbiota allows us to assess ecological and evolutionary interactions, and better understand human physiology.

Research themes

  • Microbiota in the pathophysiology of obesity (MyNewGut FP7 EU Project 2015-18)

  • Microbiota in the IBS pathophysiology (ZESPRI Group 2016-18)

  • Microbiota in the early life and probiotic use (PROS.IT – CLAN 2013-17)

  • Microbiota in the elderly (NU-AGE FP7 EU Project 2012-16)

  • Microbiota, nutrition and functional food (BAKE4FUN FP7 EU Project 2012-15)

  • Microbiota-host co-evolution (HARVEST ERC Starting Grant 2017-22)

  • Microbiota in the graft-versus-host disease, aGvHD (Ricerca Finalizzata 2016-19)

  • Microbiota of wild animals

  • Plant microbiome

  • The metavirome within the microbiota

  • Software development for easier metagenomics

Lab members

Patrizia Brigidi – Full Professor – Lab Director

Marco Candela – Associate Professor – Lab Co-director

Silvia Turroni – Post-doc Researcher – Research interests: Microbiota-host co-evolution, Microbiome and host nutrition, Plant microbiome

Elena Biagi – Post-doc Researcher – Research interests: Microbiome and aging, Microbiome in aGvHD, Microbiome of wild animals

Simone Rampelli – Post-doc Researcher – Research interests: Microbiota in the pathophysiology of obesity, Microbiota-host co-evolution, Plant microbiome, Metavirome and Software development

Sara Quercia – PhD candidate – Research interests: Microbiota in the early life, Culturomics, Microbiota and nutrition

Matteo Soverini – PhD candidate – Research interests: Microbiota of wild animals, Microbiota and nutrition, Metavirome and Software development

Monica Barone – PhD candidate – Research interests: Microbiota and nutrition, Culturomics, Microbiota and obesity

Internship projects

Internships and stays are available on the research themes.

Main publications

Turroni S et al. Fecal metabolome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers: a host-microbiome integrative view. Sci Rep 2016;6:32826.doi:10.1038/srep32826

Biagi E, et al. Gut Microbiota and Extreme Longevity. Curr Biol 2016;26:1480-5.doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.016.

Candela M et al. Modulation of gut microbiota dysbioses in type 2 diabetic patients by macrobiotic Ma-Pi 2 diet. Br J Nutr 2016;116:80-93.doi:10.1017/S0007114516001045

Rampelli S et al. Metagenome Sequencing of the Hadza Hunter-Gatherer Gut Microbiota. Curr Biol 2015;25:1682-93.doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.055

Schnorr SL et al. Gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers. Nat Commun 2014;5:3654.doi:10.1038/ncomms4654