Life in the gut: microbial responses to stress in the gastrointestinal tract

Petra Louis, Conor P O'Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The complex physical and chemical conditions encountered in the gut present a range of physiological challenges to both the commensal microbiota and to pathogenic microorganisms attempting to colonise the gut. The innate immune system of the host, the host's diet and the microbial population present in the gut all contribute to the chemical complexity of the environment. The huge population of microorganisms in the gut also has a significant impact on the physicochemical properties of the gut environment. By focussing on some of the key physical and chemical stresses encountered by microorganisms in the gut, some of the molecular responses are described. Some promising new experimental approaches are outlined for studying the behaviour of microorganisms and their communities within the gut environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-36
Number of pages30
JournalScience Progress
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • animals
  • antimicrobial cationic peptides
  • bacteriocins
  • gastrointestinal tract
  • gene expression
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • humans
  • hydrogen-ion concentration
  • immunity, innate
  • osmolar concentration
  • phenols
  • reactive nitrogen species
  • sigma factor
  • stress, physiological


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