Biochemical features of beneficial microbes: Foundations for therapeutic microbiology

Melinda A. Engevik, James Versalovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Commensal and beneficial microbes secrete myriad products which target the mammalian host and other microbes. These secreted substances aid in bacterial niche development, and select compounds beneficially modulate the host and promote health. Microbes produce unique compounds which can serve as signaling factors to the host, such as biogenic amine neuromodulators, or quorum-sensing molecules to facilitate inter-bacterial communication. Bacterial metabolites can also participate in functional enhancement of host metabolic capabilities, immunoregulation, and improvement of intestinal barrier function. Secreted products such as lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, bacteriocins, and bacteriocin-like substances can also target the microbiome. Microbes differ greatly in their metabolic potential and subsequent host effects. As a result, knowledge about microbial metabolites will facilitate selection of next-generation probiotics and therapeutic compounds derived from the mammalian microbiome. In this article we describe prominent examples of microbial metabolites and their effects on microbial communities and the mammalian host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberBAD-0012-2016
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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