Genomic convergence between Akkermansia muciniphila in different mammalian hosts

Sharon Y. Geerlings, Janneke P. Ouwerkerk, Jasper J. Koehorst, Jarmo Ritari, Steven Aalvink, Bärbel Stecher, Peter J. Schaap, Lars Paulin, Willem M. de Vos, Clara Belzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Akkermansia muciniphila is a member of the human gut microbiota where it resides in the mucus layer and uses mucin as the sole carbon, nitrogen and energy source. A. muciniphila is the only representative of the Verrucomicrobia phylum in the human gut. However, A. muciniphila 16S rRNA gene sequences have also been found in the intestines of many vertebrates. Results: We detected A. muciniphila-like bacteria in the intestines of animals belonging to 15 out of 16 mammalian orders. In addition, other species belonging to the Verrucomicrobia phylum were detected in fecal samples. We isolated 10 new A. muciniphila strains from the feces of chimpanzee, siamang, mouse, pig, reindeer, horse and elephant. The physiology and genome of these strains were highly similar in comparison to the type strain A. muciniphila MucT. Overall, the genomes of the new strains showed high average nucleotide identity (93.9 to 99.7%). In these genomes, we detected considerable conservation of at least 75 of the 78 mucin degradation genes that were previously detected in the genome of the type strain MucT. Conclusions: The low genomic divergence observed in the new strains may indicate that A. muciniphila favors mucosal colonization independent of the differences in hosts. In addition, the conserved mucus degradation capability points towards a similar beneficial role of the new strains in regulating host metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number298
JournalBMC Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • Beneficial microbe
  • Comparative genomics
  • Gastrointestinal-tract
  • Gut bacteria
  • Phylogenetic analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Genomic convergence between Akkermansia muciniphila in different mammalian hosts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this