The various components of the intestinal microflora in the mouse become established according to a definite time sequence; the strict anaerobes are the last groups of bacteria to reach their maximum population levels, 14–16 days after birth.
The multiplication of these strict anaerobes in the mouse intestine seems to depend upon the prior multiplication of other bacterial species, and coincides with the ingestion of food other than maternal milk. These two conditioning factors may correspond to the establishment of a suitably reduced Eh potential and to the provision of certain metabolites.
Once established, the strict anaerobes constitute by far the largest percentage of the total intestinal microflora; most of them are associated in a viable form with the mucosa. In normal animals they persist at very high levels throughout the life span. However, their populations can be drastically reduced by dietary manipulation of the animal, by administration of vancomycin, or by certain disease processes of the intestine.
The strict anaerobic bacteria seem to play an important, and perhaps essential role in the maintenance of the anatomic structures and physiological functions of the intestine. They also seem to hold in check several species of intestinal bacteria, in particular the coliform bacilli.