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New type of bacteria named after life sciences research institute WELBIO

Wavre (Belgium), 10 July 2019 - WELBIO has received a truly unique form of acknowledgement: a newly discovered bacterium has been named after the research institute. The human gut microbe was discovered during a project led by Prof. Patrice Cani (WELBIO-FNRS- UCLouvain), who proposed the scientific name Dysosmobacter welbionis.

D. welbionis represents both a brand-new bacterial genus and species. The species name welbionis is derived from the WELBIO acronym (which stands for “Walloon Excellence in Life sciences and BIOtechnology”). The genus name Dysosmobacter means “bad-smelling rod”, owing to the smelly nature of the rod-shaped microbe.

The newly discovered microbe is related to the Oscillibacter-Oscillospira clade, a group of elusive bacteria associated with health-promoting properties. Specifically, some of these bacteria, although never cultured, are positively correlated with leanness and negatively associated with inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease.

D. welbionis was isolated during a project aiming to investigate the link between gut microbes and metabolism. Like its sister species, D. welbionis produces butyrate, a type of short-chain fatty acid considered vital to maintaining a healthy gut. These types of butyrate-producing bacteria are increasingly being looked to for next-generation probiotics because of their anti-inflammatory properties.

Patrice Cani commented: “My post-doc Dr. Tiphaine Le Roy and I were very excited by the discovery of this novel human gut bacterium. We had the incredible chance, honor and privilege to propose a name for this new organism. WELBIO has been supporting my research for 7 years; this discovery was only made possible thanks to the institute’s financial support. I immediately thought that this was a perfect time to honor WELBIO by naming the species welbionis. This means that, around the world, people are living with bacteria named D. welbionis; a nod to both Belgium and our Walloon region.”

Pierre Van Renterghem, director of WELBIO, commented: “We thank Patrice Cani and Tiphaine Le Roy for naming the new bacterium they discovered after the WELBIO institute. We see it as a highly symbolic recognition of the importance of WELBIO for the research community in Wallonia and Brussels. Feeling honored to have your name associated with a “bad-smelling rod” does of course require a bit of humor, but we are very proud of the acknowledgement!”

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    • Pierre Van Renterghem
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Last Updated: 10-Jul-2019