Literally, "intestine type." (entero- Latin, from Greek enteron, intestine; + Latin -typus, from Greek -typos, type)

 

A way to classify organisms based on common microbial ecosystems found in the human gastro-intestinal tract. Human digestive tracts are known for hosting communities of bacteria. New findings, published in April 2011, suggest that these bacterial communities fall into categories (enterotypes) that are not correlated with sex, weight, age, ethnicity or geography. The research team found three distinct types, each characterized by a predominance of a particular bacteria. Enterotype 1 was identified with the genus Bacteroides, and the microflora found in this enterotype speciallize in synthesizing biotin, riboflavin, pantothenate and ascorbate. Enterotype 2 is high in Prevotella and  Desulfovibrio. People with this community of microflora were better at synthesizing thiamine and folate. Enterotype 3, the most common type the researchers found in their sample, is characterized by the genus Ruminococcus (which breaks down cellulose) as well as Akkermansia.

As the sample size was limited (just 39 people, from Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States), there may be other enterotypes yet to be discovered.

 

Sources:

Arumugam, Manimozhiyan; et al. "Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome." Nature. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09944 (accessed April 22, 2011).
Brandon Keim. "Gut-Bacteria Mapping Finds Three Global Varieties." Wired.com. April 20, 2011. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/04/gut-bacteria-types/ (accessed APril 22, 2011)
Press Release. European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg. "What's your gut type?" 20 April 2011. http://www.embl.de/aboutus/communication_outreach/media_relations/2011/110420_Heidelberg/index.html  (accessed April 22, 2011).

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