Escherichia coli Diversity in the Human Gut Microbiome
— Sonya Dhanjal
The human gut microbial flora population is very large, diverse and important for health. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the predominant facultative anaerobe of the gut microbiome and acts in a commensal manner within healthy hosts. Since E. coli is relatively easy to isolate and culture in a lab environment, along with being one of the most well characterized microbes, it is an ideal microbe to study in determining diversity within the human gut microbiome. Determining the diversity of E. coli within the gut microbiome increases our understanding of the gut flora population and how adaptations to the host gut environment are acquired. In this project, E. coli isolates from various individuals are assayed for a collection of phenotypes including colony morphology, hemolysis, motility, aerobic/anaerobic growth, auxotrophy, biofilm production and ampicillin resistance. Initial findings suggest that there is a high level of phenotypic diversity present in E. coli of the human gut microbiome between and within individuals. The results from this project may even provide insight into the diversity of other gut microbes that are not as well characterized as E. coli.