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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2015 Jul;362(13):fnv092. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnv092. Epub 2015 May 29.

Methanogen communities in stools of humans of different age and health status and co-occurrence with bacteria.

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Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.
Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland


Hydrogenotrophic methanogens live in a synthrophic relationship with the human gut microbiota as the terminal part of the anaerobic food chain. Methanobrevibacter smithii of the Methanobacteriales is the prevailing archaeal species. Recently, methylotrophic archaea of the novel order Methanomassiliicoccales were isolated from human stools. Few data exist on the prevalence, abundance, persistence and ecology of these methanogens in humans. This study investigated methanogen communities in 26 healthy and obese children (8-14 years) and 18 adults (28-78 years) using quantitative PCR. Samples were obtained from nine females before and after giving birth. Bacterial groups linked to the abundance of methanogens in adult females were identified using a 16S rRNA gene amplicon data set. A total of 89% and 65% of adults and children, respectively, carried Methanobacteriales. Methanomassiliicoccales were recovered from 50% of the adults and one child. Mean relative abundance of Methanomassiliicoccales in adults was lower than that of Methanobacteriales (0.10% versus 0.52%). Both Methanobacteriales and Methanomassiliicoccales formed stable communities in females before and after giving birth. Methanobacteriales co-occurred with bacterial taxonomic groups associated with the trophic chain from carbohydrate degradation to hydrogen and formate formation. Relative abundance was inversely correlated to Blautia. Negative correlation with little characterized groups within the Clostridiales indicated possible interactions of Methanomassiliicoccales with the bacterial community.


Methanobacteriales; Methanomassiliicoccales; human stool

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