Nature Medicine: Meta-omics analysis of elite athletes identifies a performance-enhancing microbe that functions via lactate metabolism

A closer look at the gut microbiome of elite marathon runners unveils a microbe-encoded enzymatic process that contributes to enhanced athletic performance.

Supported by quantitative data and pre-clinical research, the findings have the potential to reshape Sports Nutrition. After years of research and development, the findings were published in Nature Medicine. You can view a pdf of the full paper here.

Dr. Scheiman is lead author of the paper published today, which is the result of research he conducted as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. The research was led by Aleksandar Kostic, PhD , at Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, and George Church, PhD , at Harvard Medical School and Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

The research team, which also included Renee Wurth, PhD, a scientific advisor to FitBiomics, among other academic colleagues, analyzed the microbiome of Boston Marathon runners and conducted experiments in animal models to tease out the effects of gut bacteria on performance capacity. They report that bacteria of the genus Veillonella became more abundant after training or competition and these beneficial bacteria had all the attributes necessary to consume lactate, a metabolite associated with the fatigue of exercise. In another experiment, the authors isolated a strain of Veillonella from one of the marathon runners and administered it to mice. They found that the mice given the bacteria increased their performance in a laboratory treadmill test by 13%, relative to that of the control group.

Fitbiomics is currently looking to recruit more elite-level athletes as well as build a community of everyday athletes.