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Hydrogen cross-feeders of the human gastrointestinal tract

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 17:13 authored by Nick Smith, Paul ShortenPaul Shorten, Eric Altermann, Nicole Roy, Warren McNabb
Hydrogen plays a key role in many microbial metabolic pathways in the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) that have an impact on human nutrition, health and wellbeing. Hydrogen is produced by many members of the GIT microbiota, and may be subsequently utilized by cross-feeding microbes for growth and in the production of larger molecules. Hydrogenotrophic microbes fall into three functional groups: sulfate-reducing bacteria, methanogenic archaea and acetogenic bacteria, which can convert hydrogen into hydrogen sulfide, methane and acetate, respectively. Despite different energy yields per molecule of hydrogen used between the functional groups, all three can coexist in the human GIT. The factors affecting the numerical balance of hydrogenotrophs in the GIT remain unconfirmed. There is increasing evidence linking both hydrogen sulfide and methane to GIT diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, and strategies for the mitigation of such health problems through targeting of hydrogenotrophs constitute an important field for further investigation.


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© 2018 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC


  • English

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Taylor & Francis Group

Journal title

Gut Microbes




Smith, N. W., Shorten, P. R., Altermann, E. H., Roy, N. C., & McNabb, W. C. (2019). Hydrogen cross-feeders of the human gastrointestinal tract. Gut Microbes, 10(3), 270-288. doi:10.1080/19490976.2018.1546522