This bacterium was found in 42% of all participants in small numbers. It was the dominant or most common bacterium in just one participant.
What does this bacterium look like?
Limosilactobacillus is a fairly thick, short stick, about 2 micrometres in size. Useful to know: 1000 micrometres fit in one millimetre. The name of this bacterium is derived from the Latin word limosus, which means slimy. This refers to a specific molecule that Limosilactobacillus produce, which creates a sticky layer between the bacteria.
What does science know about this bacterium?
Limosilactobacillus is the umbrella name of the genus, and the genus Limosilactobacillus is actually composed of several species (just as Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus jensenii are two species of the genus Lactobacillus). Some species, such as Limosilactobacillus reuteri and Limosilactobacillus fermentum have already been fairly well studied by scientists, but about many other species very little or almost nothing is known. For example, we still have a lot to learn about Limosilactobacillus vaginalis and Limosilactobacillus mucosae.
The genome of Limosilactobacillus varies from species to species, but we already know that this bacterium can make about 2000 different molecules.
What is this bacterium doing in my vagina?
Limosilactobacillus is actually always found in low concentrations in the vagina. That is why at Isala we had initially classified this bacterium in the large group of ‘other bacteria’. But this bacterium invariably came back in our analysis of factors that influence the vaginal microbiome. We also found this bacterium very often together with Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus jensenii, and this mostly in healthy vaginas!
In the vagina, this bacterium produces lactic acid just like Lactobacillus species and thus helps to lower acidity levels. In addition, Limosilactobacillus can also produce antimicrobial molecules, important to inhibit or stop the growth of bad bacteria or fungi. In this way, the Limosilactobacillus protects your vagina against infections.
Does this bacteria occur elsewhere?
Most Limosilactobacillus species were found in the intestinal tract of humans or animals (for example, Limosilactobacillus gorillae was first found in – you guessed it – gorillas). The fact that these bacterial species occur in different animals is extremely fascinating for evolutionary scientists. They study the relationship between the specific bacteria and their hosts (mammals, rodents, birds,…) and learn that bacteria and hosts are better and better in tune, which indicates that animals and their Limosilactobacillus species have evolved together! And this is probably true for humans and their Limosilactobacillus too.
The best known Limosilactobacillus species is Limosilactobacillus reuteri. This bacterium is used as a probiotic for the intestines, especially in young children. Another species that has been studied many times is Limosilactobacillus fermentum. It is often found in the fermentation of food products such as sourdough and cocoa. This bacterium helps to provide the yummy taste and smell!