The intestine contains more than 140,000 species of viruses, half of which are unknown

According to a study published on February 18, 2021 in the journal Cell, the human intestine would contain more than 140,000 species of virus, half of which are unknown to scientists. Don’t panic, most of them are part of the intestinal ecosystem.

Over 140,000 viruses in the human gut

For several years, especially thanks to the bestseller of Giulia Enders, the intestine has been talked about. This discreetly charming organ has also been the subject of a study, the results of which have been published in the journal Cell February 18, 2021. In total, the researchers analyzed more than 28,000 gut microbiome samples collected from different parts of the world.

These analyzes enabled researchers from Wellcome Sanger Institute and the EMBL European Institute of Bioinformatics (EMBL-EBI) to identify more than 140,000 viral species living in the human gut. Out of all of these viruses, it turns out that more than half have never been seen before. This surprisingly high figure allowed scientists to see how much “ the human intestine is an environment of incredible biodiversity »Tells us a press release.

Not all viruses in the gut are harmful

According to the researchers, the number and diversity of viruses that have been discovered will open up new avenues of research to understand how viruses living in the gut affect human health. Indeed, in addition to bacteria, hundreds of thousands of viruses called bacteriophages that can infect bacteria, also live in the human intestine.

This study is also an opportunity to recall that not all viruses are harmful, information that is all the more important in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike pathogens, most of the viruses present in this part of the digestive tract are part of the intestinal ecosystem.