Studying Fungal-Bacterial Relationships in the Human Gut Using an In Vitro Model (TIM-2)

E. Maas*, J. Penders, K. Venema*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The complex microbial community found in the human gut consist of members of multiple kingdoms, among which are bacteria and fungi. Microbiome research mainly focuses on the bacterial part of the microbiota, thereby neglecting interactions that can take place between bacteria and fungi. With the rise of sequencing techniques, the possibilities to study cross-kingdom relationships has expanded. In this study, fungal-bacterial relationships were investigated using the complex, dynamic computer-controlled in vitro model of the colon (TIM-2). Interactions were investigated by disruption of either the bacterial or fungal community by the addition of antibiotics or antifungals to TIM-2, respectively, compared to a control without antimicrobials. The microbial community was analyzed with the use of next generation sequencing of the ITS2 region and the 16S rRNA. Moreover, the production of SCFAs was followed during the interventions. Correlations between fungi and bacteria were calculated to investigate possible cross-kingdom interactions. The experiments showed that no significant differences in alpha-diversity were observed between the treatments with antibiotics and fungicide. For beta-diversity, it could be observed that samples treated with antibiotics clustered together, whereas the samples from the other treatments were more different. Taxonomic classification was done for both bacteria and fungi, but no big shifts were observed after treatments. At the level of individual genera, bacterial genus Akkermansia was shown to be increased after fungicide treatment. SCFAs levels were lowered in samples treated with antifungals. Spearman correlations suggested that cross-kingdom interactions are present in the human gut, and that fungi and bacteria can influence each other. Further research is required to gain more insights in these interactions and their molecular nature and to determine the clinical relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number174
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Fungi
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • gut microbiota
  • fungi
  • bacteria
  • in vitro model
  • cross-kingdom relations


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