Fungi in Gastrointestinal Tracts of Human and Mice: from Community to Functions.

Fungi are often ignored in studies on gut microbes because of their low level of presence (making up only 0.1% of the total microorganisms) in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of monogastric animals. Recent studies using novel technologies such as next generation sequencing have expanded our understanding on the importance of intestinal fungi in humans and animals. Here, we provide a comprehensive review on the fungal community, the so-called mycobiome, and their functions from recent studies in humans and mice. In the GIT of humans, fungi belonging to the phyla Ascomycota, Basidiomycota and Chytridiomycota are predominant. The murine intestines harbor a more diverse assemblage of fungi. Diet is one of the major factors influencing colonization of fungi in the GIT. Presence of the genus Candida is positively associated with dietary carbohydrates, but are negatively correlated with dietary amino acids, proteins, and fatty acids. However, the relationship between diet and the fungal community (and functions), as well as the underlying mechanisms remains unclear. Dysbiosis of intestinal fungi can cause invasive infections and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, it is not clear whether dysbiosis of the mycobiome is a cause, or a result of IBD. Compared to non-inflamed intestinal mucosa, the abundance and diversity of fungi is significantly increased in the inflamed mucosa. The commonly observed commensal fungal species Candida albicans might contribute to occurrence and development of IBD. Limited studies show that Candida albicans might interact with immune cells of the host intestines through the pathways associated with Dectin-1, Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), and TLR4. This review is expected to provide new thoughts for future studies on intestinal fungi and for new therapies to fungal infections in the GIT of human and animals.

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