Simone Becattini Group
Project at a glance
The intestinal tract of metazoans harbors a dense collection of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiota. In humans, the microbiota contains about a hundred trillion bacteria, so that microbes and mammalian cells in our bodies live approximately in a 1:1 ratio.
The microbiota has a strong impact on host health, performing functions that are key to host physiology, such as digestion of fibers, tuning of the immune system, and protection against pathogens, but also at times promoting pathologies such as inflammatory diseases and cancer, if its activity is dysregulated.
The main guardian of the gut microbiota activity is the immune system, with which intestinal microbes establish a very tight and complex symbiosis, continuously fine-tuned via bidirectional dialogue. Bacteria respond to immune stimuli by activating or suppressing selected functions at the transcriptional level, with consequences for human health that have just begun to be elucidated.
By using immunological and microbiological models combined with cutting-edge sequencing approaches, our laboratory is trying to dissect this intricate relationship, generating knowledge that could be used to promote health by inhibiting detrimental activities of intestinal microbes, as well as by enhancing their protective functions via genetic engineering of probiotics.