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MICROBIOME RESEARCH by Sara Carney

Dr. Jan Suchodolski

INSIDE YOUR PET The word “ecosystem” often evokes images of vast terrain and large expanses of wilderness, often at the continental or planetary scale. But, ecosystems aren’t always so massive. In fact, people, dogs, cats, and all other animals harbor tiny ecosystems within their guts and on their skin. This tiny world made up of microbes and metabolites is known as the microbiome. The microscopic microcosm within the guts of our pet cats and dogs is the subject of Dr. Jan Suchodolski’s research. As the associate director of research and head of microbiome sciences at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Gastrointestinal (GI) Laboratory, Suchodolski is much like a biologist trekking through unknown terrain to characterize and understand the life

present. And, he is part of one of only two labs in the nation specializing in research on the companion animal microbiome. The microbiome is a relatively new field of study, making Suchodolski’s research cutting edge. He has spent much of his research career uncovering what makes up our pet’s digestive tract. But, Suchodolski’s work is more than just identification; he is also working on understanding how the microbiome affects the overall health of the digestive system and beyond. “In the past, we focused on understanding ‘who’ makes up the microbiome, categorizing the bacterial groups present in the GI tract,” Suchodolski said. “Over the last 10 years, we

49 | CVM IMPACT

THE TINY WORLD

CVM Impact - Fall 2016  

CVM Impact is a special publications from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) that focuses on the resea...

CVM Impact - Fall 2016  

CVM Impact is a special publications from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) that focuses on the resea...