Transient osmotic perturbation causes long-term alteration to the gut microbiota

Placeholder Show Content


"Osmotic diarrhea is a prevalent condition in humans caused by food intolerance, malabsorption, and widespread laxative use. Here, we assess the resilience of the gut ecosystem to osmotic perturbation at multiple length and time scales using mice as model hosts. Osmotic stress caused reproducible extinction of highly abundant taxa and expansion of less prevalent members in human and mouse microbiotas. Quantitative imaging revealed decimation of the mucus barrier during osmotic perturbation, followed by recovery. The immune system exhibited temporary changes in cytokine levels and a lasting IgG response against commensal bacteria. Increased osmolality prevented growth of commensal strains in vitro, revealing one mechanism contributing to extinction. Environmental availability of microbiota members mitigated extinction events, demonstrating how species reintroduction can impact community resilience. Our findings demonstrate that even mild osmotic diarrhea can cause lasting changes to the microbiota and host, and lay the foundation for interventions that increase system-wide resilience.The data presented here represents the 16S, transcriptomics and metagenomics sequencing files for the study and the associated metadata. Each file refers to a figure in the manuscript and is matched to its mapping file with the corresponding file name."


Type of resource software, multimedia
Date created 2014 - 2017
Publication date 2017


Author Tropini, Carolina ORCiD icon (unverified)
Author Sonnenburg, Justin


Subject diarrhea
Subject transcriptomics
Subject metagenomics
Subject osmotic perturbation
Subject microbiota
Subject microbiome
Subject Microbiology
Genre Dataset
Genre Quantitative data

Bibliographic information

Related publication Tropini, C., Moss, E. L., Merrill, B. D., Ng, K. M., Higginbottom, S. K., Casavant, E. P., Gonzalez, C. G., Fremin, B., Bouley, D. M., Elias, J. E., Bhatt, A. S., Huang, K. C. & Sonnenburg, J. L. Transient Osmotic Perturbation Causes Long-Term Alteration to the Gut Microbiota. Cell 173, 1742--1754.e17 (2018).
Appears in

Access conditions

Use and reproduction
User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC BY).

Preferred citation

Preferred citation
Tropini, Carolina and Sonnenburg, Justin. (2017). Transient osmotic perturbation causes long-term alteration to the gut microbiota. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at


Also listed in

Loading usage metrics...