Japanese sushi-eating bacteria discovered
Genes from marine bacteria that live on the Porphyra seaweed used to wrap sushi have also been found in gut bacteria isolated from Japanese people, but not in similar microbes from North Americans. Scientists from the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, who reported their work in Nature, sequenced the genetic makeup of Zobellia galactanivorans bacteria taken from the seaweed and searched DNA databases for matches. They analysed the 11 genes also present in the Japanese gut microbe Bacteroides plebius and found them to be responsible for breaking down carbohydrates in the seaweed. These genes enable the Bacteroides in the intestines to help digest sushi when it is eaten. Japan has a long history of eating seaweed and the researchers believe that over the centuries, the marine microbes have swapped genes with the gut organisms. There are trillions of bacteria in the human intestines, many of which help us to break down our food.