The human gut microbiome plays key roles in health and disease. Although diet is a major driver of the microbiota physiology, the gut microbiota-mediated mechanisms that link diet to intestinal disorders and enteric infections are poorly understood. Our work is focused on discerning these mechanisms and underlying eco-immunological processes via colonic mucus barrier−gut microbiota interactions. Since the modern diet of developed countries  includes significantly reduced dietary fiber, we seek to understand how a fiber-deprived gut microbiota impacts human  health.


  • Prof. Eric Martens, University of Michigan, USA
  • Prof. Gabriel Nunez, University of Michigan, USA
  • Prof. Bruce R. Hamaker, Purdue University, USA

Research Projects

Using gnotobiotic mouse models containing fully characterized human gut bacterial communities, we inted to:

  • Study how a fiber-deprived gut microbiota resorts to host-secreted mucin glycoproteins leading to erosion of the colonic mucus barrier
  • Investigate host immune regulation in response to the fiber-deprived gut-microbiota-mediated erosion of the colonic mucus layer
  • Examine changes in host susceptibility to an intestinal pathogen (Citrobacter rodentium) during microbiota-mediated erosion of the colonic mucus layer
  • Design and test practicable prebiotic diets in order to maintain populations of fiber-degrading bacteria

Featured Publications

Leveraging diet to engineer the gut microbiome.

  • Eco-Immunology and Microbiome
December 01, 2021
2021 Dec. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol.18(12):885-902. Epub 2021 Sep 27.
  • Wolter M
  • Grant ET
  • Boudaud M
  • Steimle A
  • Pereira GV
  • Martens EC
  • Desai MS.
See all publications


Mahesh Desai


29, rue Henri Koch
Tel. : +352 26970-389