"Mapping the chemical diversity between mammalian gut microbiomes – a molecular walk in the zoo"

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Building 48, Room 316
15 VASSAR ST, Cambridge, MA 02139

Rachel GregorBen Gurion University

for the The Parsons Lab Microbial Systems Seminar Series @MIT


Mapping the chemical diversity between mammalian gut microbiomes – a molecular walk in the zoo

 Rachel Gregor1,2, Maraike Probst2,3, Stav Eyal2,3, Goor Sasson2,3, Alexander Aksenov4,5, Pieter C. Dorrestein4,5, Michael M. Meijler1,2*, Itzhak Mizrahi2,3*

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel: 1Department of Chemistry; 2National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev; 3Department of Life Sciences

University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA: 4Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; 5Department of Pediatrics

In the past decade, studies on the mammalian microbiome have revealed that different animal species show wide variations in their microbial compositions. This diversity is strongly connected to a variety of factors, especially diet, digestive strategy, and animal host phylogeny.

However, a key metagenomics study indicated functional redundancy, meaning that despite this taxonomic diversity, the functional capabilities of these microbial communities are similar, although certain functions were found to be enriched based on diet.

Here, we propose to characterize the metabolic content of mammalian microbiomes as a direct window into ecosystem function. We have performed comprehensive metabolomics analyses on 101 mammalian fecal samples, as well as 34 dietary samples. Our platform includes LC-MS/MS for semi-polar metabolites and lipids, GC-MS for primary metabolites, and GC-FID for short chain fatty acids. Metabolites were classified using the Global Natural Product Social Molecular Networking platform (GNPS; gnps.ucsd.edu) to assign putative structures and group compounds into chemical families based on fragmentation patterns. Additionally, the microbiome of the fecal samples was analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

We found a strong correspondence between the animals’ microbiomes and metabolomes (Mantel test: 0.703; significance: 0.001), as well the association of certain chemical families with different animal groups. We are currently examining how this effect differs for different classes of metabolites, as well as correlating between specific metabolites and microbial species, in order to better elucidate the metabolic capabilities of these communities and the ramifications on their ecological functions.


Event Type


Events By School

School of Science



Civil and Environmental Engineering


Contact Email


Add to my calendar

Recent Activity