British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Molecular methods for exploring the intestinal ecosystem

G. W. Tannocka1 c1

a1 Department of Microbiology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand


Molecular methods have provided renewed impetus for the analysis of the composition of the intestinal microflora in health and disease. The polymerase chain reaction coupled with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis provides a method whereby the bacterial communities in large numbers of samples can be compared efficiently and effectively. Altered bacterial populations associated with disease states can then be targeted for further investigation. In the long-term, an ‘abnormal microflora’ might be rectified by the use of probiotics or prebiotics.


c1 *Corresponding author: G. W. Tannock, fax +64 3 479 8540, email