Bacteroidetes are a major phylum or group of bacteria that are commonly found in the gut microbiome of humans and animals. They are gram-negative bacteria, characterized by their outer cell membrane.
Bacteroidetes comprise a diverse range of bacteria, including various genera such as Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Alistipes, among others. These bacteria have different functions and can have both beneficial and potentially harmful effects on our health, depending on their specific species and context.
In terms of their role in the gut microbiome, Bacteroidetes play several important functions. They are known for their ability to break down complex carbohydrates and utilize them as an energy source. Bacteroidetes are particularly adept at fermenting and metabolizing a wide range of dietary fibers, producing beneficial byproducts like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as acetate, propionate, and succinate.
Bacteroidetes also contribute to the maintenance of a balanced gut environment. They play a role in the degradation of mucin, a glycoprotein that lines the intestinal walls and acts as a protective barrier. By breaking down mucin, Bacteroidetes help maintain the integrity of the gut lining and prevent harmful substances from penetrating the intestinal wall.
Additionally, Bacteroidetes have been associated with modulation of the immune system. Certain species of Bacteroidetes have been found to interact with immune cells and influence immune responses, promoting tolerance and preventing excessive inflammation.