Journal of Microbiology

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 199–208 | Cite as

The Ruminococci: key symbionts of the gut ecosystem

  • Alex J. La Reau
  • Garret Suen
Review Human Microbiomes and Probiotics


Mammalian gut microbial communities form intricate mutualisms with their hosts, which have profound implications on overall health. One group of important gut microbial mutualists are bacteria in the genus Ruminococcus, which serve to degrade and convert complex polysaccharides into a variety of nutrients for their hosts. Isolated decades ago from the bovine rumen, ruminococci have since been cultured from other ruminant and non-ruminant sources, and next-generation sequencing has further shown their distribution to be widespread in a diversity of animal hosts. While most ruminococci that have been studied are those capable of degrading cellulose, much less is known about non-cellulolytic, nonruminant-associated species, such as those found in humans. Furthermore, a mechanistic understanding of the role of Ruminococcus spp. in their respective hosts is still a work in progress. This review highlights the broad work done on species within the genus Ruminococcus with respect to their physiology, phylogenetic relatedness, and their potential impact on host health.


microbiota host-microbe interactions symbiosis polysaccharide degradation Ruminococcus 


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Copyright information

© The Microbiological Society of Korea and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BacteriologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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