Here at CosmosID, we can tell you a lot about your gut microbiome. We can identify what bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are lurking (and thriving!) in there and in what quantity. We can profile the antibiotic resistance and virulence genes present in the organisms. We can even tell you how your intestinal flora compares to other intestinal flora the world over.
The one thing we can't do is show you what your gut microbiome actually looks like. Now, the Sonnenburg Lab at Stanford University has just published a study unveiling some amazing images of gut microbes. Their study, just published in Cell Host & Microbe, shows images of the intestinal microbiome of mice with different diets. They specifically looked at comparing regular diets with low MAC (microbiota-accessible carbohydrate) diets. Scientists are not yet sure what kinds of fiber we should be eating to promote good gut flora, but they do know that good gut flora are good for us. And this study let's us actually see the effects.
The innovation comes from a software package they developed, called BacSpace, which stitches together images into a composite and is able to automatically differentiate between fluorescing bacteria and other organic matter in the composited image. Which leads to some pretty incredible pictures of the microbiome!
Quantitative Imaging of Gut Microbiota Spatial Organization. Earle, Kristen A. et al. Cell Host & Microbe , Volume 18 , Issue 4 , 478 - 488.
WHAT DOES YOUR GUT MICROBIOME LOOK LIKE? Courage, Katherine H. Popular Science, Oct 13, 2015.