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Microb Ecol. 1982 Oct;8(2):181-90. doi: 10.1007/BF02010451.

Segmented filamentous bacteria in the rodent small intestine: Their colonization of growing animals and possible role in host resistance toSalmonella.

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School of Microbiology, University of New South Wales, P.O. Box 1, 2033, Kensington, N.S.W., Australia.


The establishment and proliferation of a model population of autochthonous surface-associated microorganisms in the small bowel of growing rats (2-12 weeks of age) was studied. Segmented filamentous bacteria on the distal ileal villi were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and countedin situ by transect line analysis. In young animals, these bacteria first colonized the villous base, but occupied all areas on the villus by adult age. Their distribution on Peyer's patches was also noted.In growing animals, colonization of the ileal villi by filamentous bacteria was significantly correlated to the development of host resistance to fatal infection by orally-dosedSalmonella enteritidis. In animals givenSalmonella and examined by SEM and transmission EM (TEM), the pathogen was seen only on ileal tissue surfaces, predominantly the villous base, from which the autochthonous population was absent. Conversely, in animals with filamentous bacteria,Salmonella surface colonization was not observed. The results suggest a possible protective role for the surface flora in the small bowel.

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