Wageningen University, Department of Microbiology
I am interested in the networks of gut bacteria that break down mucin glycans.The human intestine is protected from contact with gut microbes by a mucus layer. This mucus layer consists of complex sugar molecules: mucin glycans. Some of the resident gut microbes can use parts of these sugar molecules as their source of energy.Mucin glycans are too large and structurally complex to be degraded by one microbe alone. Therefore, a network of microbes collaborates to break down the glycans.Degradation of mucin glycans by this network of microbes is also beneficial for the human host, as glycan degradation leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids. These compounds are taken up in the intestine and benefit human health.In this project, we explore the networks of microbes that break down the complex sugars in our gut.