The gut microbiome (the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in the gut) is influenced and shaped by a number of factors including host genetics, diet, age and environmental exposures. Interactions between the gut microbiota and the host are major determinants of health and disease. Considering that gut microbial composition is dynamic and can be modified, for example by probiotics, leveraging the microbiome for the promotion of health and alleviation of disease holds significant therapeutic potential.
Alterations in the taxonomic composition and functions of the gut microbiome have been identified in persons with obesity, type-2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A current aim in our laboratory is to understand the role of the gut microbiome and microbiome-host interactions, in the regulation of energy metabolism. Using state-of-the-art experimental approaches and germ-free mouse models, we are characterizing how the gut microbiome is altered, and influences the host, in response to changes in diet and ambient temperature. Through better understanding the role of the gut microbiome in the regulation of energy balance, we hope to improve health and prevent and treat metabolic diseases which are increasingly prevalent in today’s society.