Interspecies hydrogen transfer in the human gut ecosystem

The gut microbiota plays an important role in human health and diseases. The gut microbiota consists of hundreds of different microbial taxa which have trophic interactions with each other via cross-feeding of metabolites, including gasses. Here we study the role of- and interactions between hydrogen producers and consumers.

One of the main functions of the gut microbiota is fermentation of carbohydrates, which leads to production of short chain fatty acids as well as hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Hydrogen can serve as important energy source for respiring gut microbes such as methanogens, reductive acetogens and sulphate reducers (Carbonero, Benefiel et al. 2012). However, how interspecies hydrogen transfer between different trophic groups drives human gut microbial composition and function remains largely unknown.


This project aims to understand the impact of different interspecies hydrogen transfer activities on gut microbial composition and function. In addition, we also would like to isolate and identify novel microbes that are able to consume hydrogen.


We use in vitro systems to study the mechanisms underlying intestinal interspecies hydrogen transfer. In addition, we will study the population dynamics of different hydrogen producing and consuming microbes in a variety of human intervention studies.


Carbonero, F., A. C. Benefiel and H. R. Gaskins (2012). "Contributions of the microbial hydrogen economy to colonic homeostasis." Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology 9(9): 504-518.