I suppose that not everyone was excited to read about the use of fecal medicines to cure bacterial infections of the gut (“Fecal transplants can save lives when antibiotics don’t”; Jan. 17, Tribune), but I was encouraged to see that bacteriologists are finally starting to think like ecologists!
Using antibiotics to eliminate bacteria in a diseased gut is analogous to clear-cutting a forest. Often the result is a long-term succession of weedy and shrubby species, and forest re-establishment is delayed for decades. A common remedy is to replant tree seedlings that can successfully out-compete the weeds and shrubs.
The technique of providing diseased guts with feces from a healthy donor is the same thing, providing healthy bacteria that can out-compete the problem-causing Clostridium difficile.