In the past few years, much attention has been given to the trillions of bacterial inhabitants in our guts and the myriad of ways in which they influence our overall health. But what about fungi? Iliev et al. now report that mice and humans, along with several other mammals, contain a resident intestinal population of fungi. Deletion of Dectin-1, which acts as a major innate immune sensor for fungi, led to enhanced susceptibility and worse pathology in a chemically induced model of colitis in mice. A polymorphism in the gene that encodes Dectin-1 has been observed in patients with ulcerative colitis, which hints that, besides the traditional bacterial microbiome, alterations in the “mycobiome” may also play a role in health and disease.
I. D. Iliev, V. A. Funari, K. D. Taylor, Q. Nguyen, C. N. Reyes, S. P. Strom, J. Brown, C. A. Becker, P. R. Fleshner, M. Dubinsky, J. I. Rotter, H. L. Wang, D. P. B. McGovern, G. D. Brown, D. M. Underhill, Interactions between commensal fungi and the C-type lectin receptor Dectin-1 influence colitis. Science 336, 1314–1317 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]