Johanna’s review published on how gut microbes can make anti-inflammatory compounds when you eat broccoli

A massive literature review led by Johanna Holman, and featuring our collaborative team of broccoli sprout and microbes researchers, was accepted for publication!

As part of her master’s of science thesis, Johanna Holman reviewed hundreds of journal articles on anti-inflammatory, health-promoting dietary compounds in broccoli and other vegetables or fruits, and how microbes in the digestive tract can transform inactive precursors from foods into those beneficial compounds. This is part of a broader research collaboration on how glucoraphanin in broccoli sprouts can be made into sulforaphane, which acts as an anti-inflammatory in humans. Humans are unable to convert glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, and a small amount of this occurs naturally thanks to enzymes in the broccoli sprouts. But, certain gut microbes can make the conversion and this has helped resolve colitis and other symptoms in mice in laboratory trials (manuscripts in preparation).

A diagram with two panels, and a cartoon mouse in the middle.  The cartoon mouse is eating broccoli, and a cartoon of the digestive tract is overlaid on the mouse's abdomen. Lines emanating from the broccoli point to the left panel, and show the compound glucoraphanin being converted into sulforaphane by the myrosinase enzyme. Lines emanating from the colon of the mouse point to the panel on the right, showing the same biochemical conversion by gut microbes.
Artwork by Johanna Holman.

If you aren’t familiar with broccoli sprouts, a lovely review on their history, current food culture, and safe production was just published by some of our colleagues: Sprout microbial safety: A reappraisal after a quarter-century.

Check out the review

Holman, J., Hurd, M., Moses, P.,  Mawe, G.,  Zhang, T., Ishaq, S.L., Li, Y. 2022. Interplay of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprout Bioactives with Gut Microbiota in Reducing Inflammation in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, in press.

Abstract

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are chronic, reoccurring, and debilitating conditions characterized by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, some of which can lead to more systemic complications and can include autoimmune dysfunction, a change in the taxonomic and functional structure of microbial communities in the gut, and complicated burdens in a person’s daily life. Like many diseases based in chronic inflammation, research on IBD has pointed towards a multifactorial origin involving factors of the host’s lifestyle, immune system, associated microbial communities, and environmental conditions. Treatment currently exists only as palliative care, and seeks to disrupt the feedback loop of symptoms by reducing inflammation and allowing as much of a return to homeostasis as possible. Various anti-inflammatory options have been explored, and this review focuses on the use of diet as an alternative means of improving gut health. Specifically, we highlight the connection between the role of sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables in regulating inflammation and in modifying microbial communities, and to break down the role they play in IBD.

MSE seminar today: Dr. Liat Shenhav, “It’s about time: ecological and eco-evolutionary dynamics across the scales”

Today is final installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we have been hearing from a researcher who shared their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series ran from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and recordings from previous talks here.


“It’s about time: ecological and eco-evolutionary dynamics across the scales”

Dr. Liat Shenhav, PhD

May 4, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

Dr. Liat Shenhav. Photo borrowed from LinkedIN.

About the speaker: Dr. Liat Shenhav is an independent research fellow at the Center for Studies in Physics and Biology at the Rockefeller University. Prior to that, Liat received a B.Sc. and. M.Sc. in Mathematics and Statistics from Tel-Aviv University, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of California, Los Angeles. Liat’s research focuses on developing computational methods for studying spatiotemporal dynamics of complex ecosystems and their contribution to human health and disease.

About the talk: Complex microbial communities play an important role across many domains of life, from the female reproductive tract, through the oceans, to the plant rhizosphere. The study of these communities offers great opportunities for biological discovery, due to the ease of their measurement, the ability to perturb them, and their rapidly evolving nature. Yet, their complex composition, dynamic nature, and intricate interactions with multiple other systems, make it difficult to extract robust and reproducible patterns from these ecosystems. To uncover their latent properties, I develop models that combine longitudinal data analysis and statistical learning, and which draw from principles of community ecology, complexity theory and evolution. 

I will briefly present methods for decomposition of microbial dynamics at an ecological scale (Shenhav et al., Nature Methods 2019; Martino & Shenhav et al., Nature Biotechnology). Using these methods we found significant differences in the trajectories of the infant microbiome in the first years of life as a function of early life exposures, namely mode of delivery and breastfeeding. I will then show how incorporating eco-evolutionary considerations allowed us to detect signals of purifying selection across ecosystems. I will demonstrate how interactions between evolution and ecology played a vital role in shaping microbial communities and the standard genetics code (Shenhav & Zeevi, Science 2020).

Inspired by these discoveries, I am currently expanding the scope beyond the microbiome, modeling multi-layered data on human milk composition. I will present results from an ongoing study in which I am building integrative models of nasal, gut and milk microbiota, combined with human milk components, to predict infant respiratory health. I found that the temporal dynamics of microbiota in the first year of life, mediated by milk composition, predict the development of chronic respiratory disease later in childhood. These models, designed to identify robust spatiotemporal patterns, would help us better understand the nature and impact of complex ecosystems like the microbiome and human milk from the time of formation and throughout life.

Institutional profile page.


MSE seminar this Wednesday: Dr. Liat Shenhav, “It’s about time: ecological and eco-evolutionary dynamics across the scales”

This Wednesday there is final installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we have been hearing from a researcher who shared their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series runs from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and recordings from previous talks here.

“It’s about time: ecological and eco-evolutionary dynamics across the scales”

Dr. Liat Shenhav, PhD

May 4, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

Dr. Liat Shenhav. Photo borrowed from LinkedIN.

About the speaker: Dr. Liat Shenhav is an independent research fellow at the Center for Studies in Physics and Biology at the Rockefeller University. Prior to that, Liat received a B.Sc. and. M.Sc. in Mathematics and Statistics from Tel-Aviv University, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of California, Los Angeles. Liat’s research focuses on developing computational methods for studying spatiotemporal dynamics of complex ecosystems and their contribution to human health and disease.

About the talk: Complex microbial communities play an important role across many domains of life, from the female reproductive tract, through the oceans, to the plant rhizosphere. The study of these communities offers great opportunities for biological discovery, due to the ease of their measurement, the ability to perturb them, and their rapidly evolving nature. Yet, their complex composition, dynamic nature, and intricate interactions with multiple other systems, make it difficult to extract robust and reproducible patterns from these ecosystems. To uncover their latent properties, I develop models that combine longitudinal data analysis and statistical learning, and which draw from principles of community ecology, complexity theory and evolution. 

I will briefly present methods for decomposition of microbial dynamics at an ecological scale (Shenhav et al., Nature Methods 2019; Martino & Shenhav et al., Nature Biotechnology). Using these methods we found significant differences in the trajectories of the infant microbiome in the first years of life as a function of early life exposures, namely mode of delivery and breastfeeding. I will then show how incorporating eco-evolutionary considerations allowed us to detect signals of purifying selection across ecosystems. I will demonstrate how interactions between evolution and ecology played a vital role in shaping microbial communities and the standard genetics code (Shenhav & Zeevi, Science 2020).

Inspired by these discoveries, I am currently expanding the scope beyond the microbiome, modeling multi-layered data on human milk composition. I will present results from an ongoing study in which I am building integrative models of nasal, gut and milk microbiota, combined with human milk components, to predict infant respiratory health. I found that the temporal dynamics of microbiota in the first year of life, mediated by milk composition, predict the development of chronic respiratory disease later in childhood. These models, designed to identify robust spatiotemporal patterns, would help us better understand the nature and impact of complex ecosystems like the microbiome and human milk from the time of formation and throughout life.

Institutional profile page.


MSE seminar today: Dr. Maya Hey, “What Connects Us: stories of working across difference with humans and microbes”

Today is the last installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

“What Connects Us: stories of working across difference with humans and microbes”

Dr. Maya Hey, PhD

April 27, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

About the speaker: Dr. Maya Hey is a postdoctoral researcher with the Future Organisms project as part of an international trans-disciplinary team investigating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). She brings a humanities and social science perspective to the life sciences, calling upon feminist, intersectional, and multispecies approaches to map out human response-ability in a more-than-human world. She is vested in questions related to fermentation, particularly as they relate to discourses of health, the rhetoric of microbiomes, and how we come to know microbial life.”

Professional page.

Talk summary: What connects us across different scales of life? This talk examines three case studies—on fermentation, conversation, and innovation—to better understand how micro-organisms affect macro-cultures and vice-versa, with emphasis on working with difference instead of resolving them. 

MSE seminar this Wednesday: Dr. Maya Hey, “What Connects Us: stories of working across difference with humans and microbes”

This Wednesday is the last installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

“What Connects Us: stories of working across difference with humans and microbes”

Dr. Maya Hey, PhD

April 27, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

About the speaker: Dr. Maya Hey is a postdoctoral researcher with the Future Organisms project as part of an international trans-disciplinary team investigating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). She brings a humanities and social science perspective to the life sciences, calling upon feminist, intersectional, and multispecies approaches to map out human response-ability in a more-than-human world. She is vested in questions related to fermentation, particularly as they relate to discourses of health, the rhetoric of microbiomes, and how we come to know microbial life.”

Professional page.

Talk summary: What connects us across different scales of life? This talk examines three case studies—on fermentation, conversation, and innovation—to better understand how micro-organisms affect macro-cultures and vice-versa, with emphasis on working with difference instead of resolving them. 

MSE seminar today: Dr. Catherine Girard, “Microbiomes and climate change at the intersection of human and ecosystem health in the North”

Today there is another installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

“Microbiomes and climate change at the intersection of human and ecosystem health in the North”

Dr. Catherine Girard, PhD

April 20, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

Portrait photo of Dr. Catherine Girard. Photo courtesy of Dr. Girard.

Dr. Catherine Girard is an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, where she works on the response of microbiomes to climate change in the Arctic. In the past, she has worked on the human microbiome and how it is shaped by tradition, culture and global warming. She now explores how ice-dwelling microbes are responding to change, from a conservation and ecosystem service perspective. She is involved in collaborative research with partners from the Inuit Nunangat, and views microbiomes as part of our heritage.

Professional page.

MSE seminar this Wednesday: Dr. Catherine Girard, “Microbiomes and climate change at the intersection of human and ecosystem health in the North”

This Wednesday there is another installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

“Microbiomes and climate change at the intersection of human and ecosystem health in the North”

Dr. Catherine Girard, PhD

April 20, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

Portrait photo of Dr. Catherine Girard. Photo courtesy of Dr. Girard.

Dr. Catherine Girard is an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, where she works on the response of microbiomes to climate change in the Arctic. In the past, she has worked on the human microbiome and how it is shaped by tradition, culture and global warming. She now explores how ice-dwelling microbes are responding to change, from a conservation and ecosystem service perspective. She is involved in collaborative research with partners from the Inuit Nunangat, and views microbiomes as part of our heritage.

Professional page.

MSE seminar today: Dr. Patricia Kaishian, “Deconstructing the individual: how science can materially advance using queer and feminist theory”

Today there is another installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

Deconstructing the individual: how science can materially advance using queer and feminist theory

Dr. Patricia Kaishian, PhD

April 13, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

Dr. Patricia Kaishian. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kaishian.
Dr. Patricia Kaishian. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kaishian.

About the speaker: Dr. Patricia Kaishian is a visiting professor of Biology at Bard College in NY. Her scientific research is focused on the taxonomy of Laboulbeniales fungi, fungal biodiversity, and exploration of the use of certain fungi as potential indicators of ecosystem health. Beyond more traditional scientific research, Patricia works in the realms of philosophy of science, feminist bioscience, ecofeminism and queer theory, exploring how mycology and other scientific disciplines are situated in and informed by our sociopolitical landscape. Her publication, The science underground: mycology as a queer discipline, appears in the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory & Technoscience. Patricia is also a founding member of the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists (ICAM), a research organization comprised of ethnically Armenian mycologists who seek to simultaneously advance mycological science and Armenian sovereignty and liberation.

Professional site.

This talk will explore the field of mycology and the mycobiome through a theoretical framework rooted in queer and feminist theories, as well as philosophy of science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. The goal is to challenge, push, and explore central tenets of institutional science, and to socially and historically situate current research dilemmas in mycology and microbiome studies. By excavating and laying bare ingrained, systemic biases in scientific institutions, we can attempt to disarm fallacious assertions of “purity” in science and better understand bodies at various scales.

MSE seminar this Wednesday: Dr. Patricia Kaishian, “Deconstructing the individual: how science can materially advance using queer and feminist theory”

This Wednesday there is another installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

Deconstructing the individual: how science can materially advance using queer and feminist theory

Dr. Patricia Kaishian, PhD

April 13, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

Dr. Patricia Kaishian. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kaishian.
Dr. Patricia Kaishian. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kaishian.

About the speaker: Dr. Patricia Kaishian is a visiting professor of Biology at Bard College in NY. Her scientific research is focused on the taxonomy of Laboulbeniales fungi, fungal biodiversity, and exploration of the use of certain fungi as potential indicators of ecosystem health. Beyond more traditional scientific research, Patricia works in the realms of philosophy of science, feminist bioscience, ecofeminism and queer theory, exploring how mycology and other scientific disciplines are situated in and informed by our sociopolitical landscape. Her publication, The science underground: mycology as a queer discipline, appears in the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory & Technoscience. Patricia is also a founding member of the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists (ICAM), a research organization comprised of ethnically Armenian mycologists who seek to simultaneously advance mycological science and Armenian sovereignty and liberation.

Professional site.

This talk will explore the field of mycology and the mycobiome through a theoretical framework rooted in queer and feminist theories, as well as philosophy of science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. The goal is to challenge, push, and explore central tenets of institutional science, and to socially and historically situate current research dilemmas in mycology and microbiome studies. By excavating and laying bare ingrained, systemic biases in scientific institutions, we can attempt to disarm fallacious assertions of “purity” in science and better understand bodies at various scales.

MSE seminar today: Dr. Kristina Lyons, “Decomposition as Life Politics”

Today there is another installment in the spring 2022 Microbes and Social Equity speaker series! Each week, we’ll hear from a researcher who will share their work and perspective on how microbes are involved in all aspects of our lives, and how those microbes can affect individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

This series will run from Jan 19 – May 4, Wednesdays at 12:00 – 13:00 EST. These are presented over Zoom, and open to researchers, practitioners, students, and the public. Registration is free, and required for each individual seminar you would like to attend. You can find the full speaker list, details, and registration links for each seminar in the series here.

“Decomposition as Life Politics” 

Dr. Kristina Lyons, PhD

April 6, 2022, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. Register for this free talk.

About the speaker: Dr. Kristina Lyons is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and with the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds affiliations with the Center for Experimental Ethnography and the Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies. Kristina’s current research is situated at the interfaces of socio-ecological conflicts, science, and legal studies in Colombia and Latin America. Her manuscript, Vital Decomposition: Soil Practitioners and Life Politics (Duke 2020), was awarded honorable mention by the Bryce Wood Book Award committee from the Latin American Studies Association. She has also collaborated on the creation of soundscapes, street performances, photographic essays, graphic novels, popular education audiovisual projects, community radio programs, digital storytelling platforms, and various forms of literary writing.

Professional page.

Talk summary: How does attention to and stewardship of soils point to alternative frameworks for living and dying? Dr. Lyons explores the way life strives to flourish in the face of violence, criminalization, and poisoning produced by militarized, growth-oriented development in the midst of the U.S.-Colombia war on drugs.