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Medical Forum | The microbiome of children born preterm and artists: Evidence for long-term maintenance

Presented by featured alumnus Dr Justin O’Sullivan, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

After completing his PhD at The University of Otago with Richard Cannon in 1998, Justin held postdoctoral positions in the laboratories of Professor Mick Tuite (University of Kent) and Professor Nick Proudfoot (University of Oxford).

About the Research

The microbiome is closely linked to human health and disease. Research has shown that the microbiome changes throughout life but the speed of development of the field mean that there are a lack of studies looking at the changes in the microbial composition over a long period of time. Here I discuss results from two studies looking at aspects of the stable maintenance of the microbiome over long periods.

First, we hypothesize that adverse early life events in children born preterm may lead to alterations in the gut microbiome, which contribute to later metabolic disorders. Stool metatranscriptomics identified the Coriobacteriaceae and Collinsella species as being significantly associated with children who were born preterm. There were also significant functional changes in the activity of the microbiome in children born preterm. These functional changes significantly affect glutamate and arginine metabolism. Collectively our results are consistent with perterm birth having a long-term (>7 years) effect on the function and structure of the microbiome that associates with predisposition to obesity.

Second, we characterised the gut microbial composition of artist Billy Apple® from stool samples present in 2016 on toilet tissues collected in 1970 as a conceptual art work. We found that the microbial composition present in 2016 represents 45% of the microbial species that were present in 1970. Moreover, components of Apple’s microbiome associated with the allele frequency at seven SNPs in his genome. Collectively, our results are consistent with a genetic component contributing to the selection and maintenance of the microbiome over the artist’s life-time.

About Medical Forum

Medical Forum is a weekly lecture series presenting cutting edge medical research by leaders in their fields. The presentations are designed for health professionals, academics and clinical researchers, and students across the Division of Health Sciences (especially ELM, ALM, and postgraduate candidates). Medical Forum is hosted by the Otago Postgraduate Medical Society as a joint initiative with the Dunedin School of Medicine, the School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Southern District Health Board.

Date Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Time 1:00pm - 1:50pm
Audience All University,Alumni
Event Category Health Sciences
Event Type Seminar
DepartmentPreventive and Social Medicine (DSM), Women's and Children's Health (DSM), Surgical Sciences (DSM), Psychological Medicine (DSM), Pathology (DSM), Dean's Department (DSM), General Practice and Rural Health (DSM), Medicine (DSM), Human Nutrition
LocationDental Blue Lecture Theatre | Ground Floor, Dentistry Building
Contact NameDr Sarah Soper

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