Gut Fungi Linked to Obesity


High-fat diets harm your gut bacteria (known as dysbiosis), which contributes to obesity and inflammation. While the role of bacteria in the process is steadily being unraveled, little is known about the role of fungi.


This has led scientists at the University of Minneapolis wanted to question whether high-fat diets change fungal communities in the same way that they change bacterial communities.


In a study, published in the journal mSphere, scientists fed mice either a high-fat diet or a regular diet and monitored their microbiomes.


As expected, the mice on the high-fat diet gained weight and their gut bacteria changed accordingly – Firmicutes (obesity-linked bacteria) increased and Bacteroidetes (good bacteria) decreased.


Fungi changed too.


The mice on the high-fat diet had less Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast and more Candida albicans than the mice on the regular diet.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used to make beer, wine, and bread and has been associated with good health.


Candida albicans is not so good and causes many yeast infections.


Interestingly, the research team also found that the relationship between the bacteria and fungi also changed when the mice’s diets changed.


The scientists can’t show a direct relationship between changes in gut fungi and obesity yet, but think that changes in the interactions between gut bacteria and fungi might cause weight gain.



T. Heisel et al. High-fat diet changes fungal microbiomes and interkingdom relationships in the murine gut. mSphere. Vol. 2, October 11, 2017, p. e00351. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00351-17