Demonstrating the Causal Beneficial Role of Microbes in Diet-Microbe-Host Interactions in Metabolic Disease

Over the past decade there has been an exponentially growing number of reports that describe changes in the microbial populations in response to dietary intervention. These changes in the microbiota are then associated with health outcomes with limited understanding of what changes in the microbial population really mean. Very few reports have demonstrated the specific mechanism of causality in the microbial modifications and resulting host response. Our group has observed changes in the microbiome in conjunction with improved glucose control in response to the inclusion of pea seed coats, particularly those containing proanthocyanidins. In particular we have observed an increase in two distinct genera in response to peas containing proanothocyanidins, Parasutterella and Akkermansia. This project will combine dietary intervention with the defined microbial population model so as to directly test the role of specific microbial changes in health outcome. This is a highly unique approach to test causality in diet-microbe-host interactions. While this approach will be used as a means to specifically address the interaction between a single diet constituent and a couple of identified organisms, it will provide an invaluable model to test the role of microbial change in diet induced health outcomes.

Institution: University of Alberta
Principal Investigator: Benjamin Willing, PhD
Amount Awarded: $30,000
Year Awarded: 2016

The IAFNS Future Leader Award, given annually to promising nutrition and food scientists, allows new investigators the opportunity to add to an existing project or to conduct exploratory research that might not receive funding from other sources or add to an existing project. Consideration is given to individuals proposing research in the areas of experimental nutrition, nutrition and toxicology, and nutrition and food science. Grants extend for a period of 2 years at a funding level of $15,000 USD per year. Funds may not be used for overhead or to support the investigator’s salary.

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