The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Food Science is home to the newly renovated UNL Gnotobiotic Mouse Facility (GMF). Gnotobiotic (from the Greek words gnotos meaning "known" and bios meaning "life") mice are housed in flexible plastic isolators and fed only sterile food and water to maintain strict control over the composition of their intestinal microbes. Gnotobiotic mice can be kept "germ-free," meaning their gut is completely devoid of any microorganisms. They can also be raised with a defined number of bacteria to alleviate some of the challenges that come with studying a complex microbial community. The UNL GMF allows researchers to ask mechanistic questions concerning the role of the gut microbiota in health and disease and provides the experimental model necessary for proof of principle studies critical for translating innovative, basic discoveries into the human clinical setting.
In operation since 2008, the UNL GMF maintains multiple strains of germ-free and selectively colonized wild type and transgenic mice in over 25 barrier intact, flexible film isolators. Two full-time employees and several student workers staff the facility, which is also equipped with two autoclaves and a cage washer. Drs. Amanda Ramer-Tait and Jens Walter currently serve as co-directors of the UNL GMF.