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Toxicity of Methylated Bismuth Compounds Produced by Intestinal Microorganisms to Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a Member of the Physiological Intestinal Microbiota

By Beatrix Bialek, Roland A. Diaz-Bone, Dominik Pieper, Markus Hollmann and Reinhard Hensel


Methanoarchaea have an outstanding capability to methylate numerous metal(loid)s therefore producing toxic and highly mobile derivatives. Here, we report that the production of methylated bismuth species by the methanoarchaeum Methanobrevibacter smithii, a common member of the human intestine, impairs the growth of members of the beneficial intestinal microbiota at low concentrations. The bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, which is of great importance for the welfare of the host due to its versatile digestive abilities and its protective function for the intestine, is highly sensitive against methylated, but not against inorganic, bismuth species. The level of methylated bismuth species produced by the methanoarchaeum M. smithii in a coculture experiment causes a reduction of the maximum cell density of B. thetaiotaomicron. This observation suggests that the production of methylated organometal(loid) species in the human intestine, caused by the activity of methanoarchaea, may affect the health of the host. The impact of the species to reduce the number of the physiological intestinal microbiota brings an additional focus on the potentially harmful role of methanoarchaea in the intestine of a higher organism

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Hindawi Publishing Corporation
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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