Segmented filamentous bacteria - metabolism meets immunity

Grant A. Hedblom, Holly A. Reiland, Matthew J. Sylte, Timothy J. Johnson, David J. Baumler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) are a group of host-adapted, commensal organisms that attach to the ileal epithelium of vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. A genetic relative of the genus Clostridium, these morphologically unique bacteria display a replication and differentiation lifecycle initiated by epithelial tissue binding and filamentation. SFB intimately bind to the surface of absorptive intestinal epithelium without inducing an inflammatory response. Rather, their presence impacts the generation of innate and differentiation of acquired immunity, which impact the clearance of extracellular bacterial or fungal pathogens in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. SFB have recently garnered attention due to their role in promoting adaptive and innate immunity in mice and rats through the differentiation and maturation of Th17 cells in the intestinal tract and production of immunoglobulin A (IgA). SFB are the first commensal bacteria identified that impact the maturation and development of Th17 cells in mice. Recently, microbiome studies have revealed the presence of Candidatus Arthromitus (occasionally designated as Candidatus Savagella), a proposed candidate species of SFB, in higher proportions in higher-performing flocks as compared to matched lower-performing flocks, suggesting that SFB may serve to establish a healthy gut and protect commercial turkeys from pathogens resulting in morbidity and decreased performance. In this review we seek to describe the life cycle, host specificity, and genetic capabilities of SFB, such as bacterial metabolism, and how these factors influence the host immunity and microbiome. Although the role of SFB to induce antigen-specific Th17 cells in poultry is unknown, they may play an important role in modulating the immune response in the intestinal tract to promote resistance against some infectious diseases and promote food-safety. This review demonstrates the importance of studying and further characterizing commensal, host-specific bacteria in food-producing animals and their importance to animal health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1991
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - Aug 24 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Hedblom, Reiland, Sylte, Johnson and Baumler.


  • Candidatus Arthromitus
  • Microbiome and immune system
  • SFB
  • Segmented filamentous bacteria
  • Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)


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