Toxicity of cadmium on dynamic human gut microbiome cultures
Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal toxic to the gut microbiome. In this study, we cultivated two human gut microbiomes (A and B) in bioreactors with Cd at 0 and 20 ppm for 7 days to investigate effects of Cd on the gut microbiome and to isolate Cd-tolerant bacteria autochthonous to the gut. Cd showed profound toxicity, abolishing butyrate production, depleting microbes in microbiome B, and simplifying microbiome A to a small Cd-tolerant community after 2 d of incubation. When spiked into the Cd-sensitive microbiome B, the Cd-tolerant community from microbiome A and isolates from that community worked synergistically with microbiome B to enhance butyrate production and maintained this synergism at Cd concentrations up to 5 ppm. Bacteria isolated from this Cd-tolerant community included Enterococcus faecium, Enterobacter cloacae, Lactococcus lactis, and Lactobacillus taiwanensis species. This work demonstrates a straightforward method for identifying Cd-tolerant bacteria autochthonous to the human gut that synergize with the microbiome to protect against Cd-related loss of butyrate production.