The Bosch lab uncovers links between microbiome and essential tissue contractions for healthy bowel function

The contractions of the body are triggered by nerve cells (in green); Bacteria (in red) intervene in the regulatory mechanism of the pacemaker cells underlying this process.
Figure: Christoph Giez, dr. Alexander Klimovich

Spontaneous contractions of the digestive tract play an important role in the vast majority of organisms in order to ensure a healthy intestinal function. From simple invertebrates to humans, there are consistently similar movement patterns that transport and mix the contents of the intestine through the rhythmic contraction of the muscles. These contractions of the intestine are indispensable for the digestive process and are referred to in science as peristalsis. In various diseases of the digestive tract, for example, serious inflammatory bowel disease in humans, there are disorders of natural peristalsis. So far, little is explored by which factors these contractions are controlled.

Ph.D. student Andrea Murillo together with postdoc Alexander Klimovich and other members of the Bosch lab could prove for the first time that bacterial colonization plays an important role in peristalsis in the freshwater polyp Hydra. The observation that microorganisms within the gut can affect essential pacemaker functions in peristalsis are  published in the journal “Scientific Reports”.