Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Changes in human gut flora with age: an Indian familial study

Nachiket Marathe1, Sudarshan Shetty1, Vikram Lanjekar2, Dilip Ranade2* and Yogesh Shouche1*

Author Affiliations

1 Microbial Culture Collection, National Centre for Cell Science, NCCS Complex, Ganeshkhind, Pune- 411 007, Maharashtra, India

2 Agharkar Research Institute, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar Road, Pune – 411004, Maharashtra, India

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:222  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-222

Published: 26 September 2012



The gut micro flora plays vital role in health status of the host. The majority of microbes residing in the gut have a profound influence on human physiology and nutrition. Different human ethnic groups vary in genetic makeup as well as the environmental conditions they live in. The gut flora changes with genetic makeup and environmental factors and hence it is necessary to understand the composition of gut flora of different ethnic groups. Indian population is different in physiology from western population (YY paradox) and thus the gut flora in Indian population is likely to differ from the extensively studied gut flora in western population. In this study we have investigated the gut flora of two Indian families, each with three individuals belonging to successive generations and living under the same roof.


Denaturation gradient gel electrophoresis analysis showed age-dependant variation in gut microflora amongst the individuals within a family. Different bacterial genera were dominant in the individual of varying age in clone library analysis. Obligate anaerobes isolated from individuals within a family showed age related differences in isolation pattern, with 27% (6 out of 22) of the isolates being potential novel species based on 16S rRNA gene sequence. In qPCR a consistent decrease in Firmicutes number and increase in Bacteroidetes number with increasing age was observed in our subjects, this pattern of change in Firmicutes / Bacteroidetes ratio with age is different than previously reported in European population.


There is change in gut flora with age amongst the individuals within a family. The isolation of high percent of novel bacterial species and the pattern of change in Firmicutes /Bacteroidetes ratio with age suggests that the composition of gut flora in Indian individuals may be different than the western population. Thus, further extensive study is needed to define the gut flora in Indian population.

Indian population; Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio; Human gut microflora; YY-paradox