What is Prevotella copri and why is he a ‘good’ bug?

ZOE runs the largest study of nutrition and gut bacteria in the world, with data from over 20,000 people. We publish our research in top scientific journals, including Nature Medicine.

Our scientists have found 15 “good” gut microbes that are associated with indicators of good health and 15 “bad” gut microbes that are linked with worse health. 

Prevotella copri — or “Patrick” as we call him — is one of the 15 “good” bugs. In this article, you can find out more about Patrick, why he is a good bug, and what foods he likes and dislikes. 

Fast facts about your gut microbiome

  • Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria and other microbes that make up your gut microbiome.

  • These microbes mainly feed on fiber and chemicals called polyphenols, which give plants their color, and turn these into chemicals that help support your health and weight control. 

  • Your gut microbiome is unique and radically different from everyone else’s, unlike your DNA, which is 99% the same. Even twins only share 34% of the same microbes. 

  • At ZOE, we use the latest and most advanced biotechnology to analyze the bacteria in your gut from a poop sample.

  • Using this technology, the ZOE program tells you your unique microbiome composition — including which of the 15 “good” and 15 “bad” bugs are in your gut — in order to recommend the best foods for you.

Who is Patrick?

Patrick is part of a group of bacteria called Bacteroidetes. If you looked at him under a microscope, you would see that he is shaped like a rod. 

Our scientists found Patrick in the gut of just over one-third of our study participants. 

In other studies, researchers have shown that Patrick is more abundant in non-Western societies.

Why is Patrick a ‘good’ bug?

A number of studies have found that having Patrick in your gut may be good for blood sugar control. 

But some scientists think that Patrick isn’t a “good” bug because their studies found that he could worsen listeria infections and may be linked with inflammatory diseases. 

In our study, we saw links between having Patrick in your gut and having lower levels of insulin secretion and higher insulin sensitivity.

Lower insulin secretion and higher insulin sensitivity are good for your body. Too much insulin isn’t good for your health, as it increases your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. 

What foods does Patrick like and dislike?

Our scientists have found links between specific foods that you eat and the 15 “good” and 15 “bad” gut bugs.

In general, Patrick likes eggs and dark chocolate. He doesn’t like potatoes.

But the exact foods that will help Patrick thrive in your body depend on the combination of bugs in your gut. Since every person’s gut microbiome is completely unique, there is no one-size-fits-all diet that is right for everyone. 

The ZOE program analyzes your entire microbiome and works out your unique “gut booster” and “gut suppressor” foods, so that good bugs, like Patrick, can flourish.

If you want to know the best foods for your body and your unique combination of gut bugs, take our free quiz today. 


A Listeria monocytogenes bacteriocin can target the commensal Prevotella copri and modulate intestinal infection. Cell Host & Microbe. (2019). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1931312819305402

Dietary fiber-induced improvement in glucose metabolism Is associated with increased abundance of Prevotella. Cell Metabolism. (2015). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413115005173

Human gut microbiome viewed across age and geography. Nature. (2012). https://www.nature.com/articles/nature11053

Insulin: Too much of a good thing is bad. BMC Medicine. (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7441661/

Microbiota-produced succinate improves glucose homeostasis via intestinal gluconeogenesis. Cell Metabolism. (2016). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413116302996

Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals. Nature Medicine. (2021). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-01183-8 

The Prevotella copri complex comprises four distinct clades underrepresented in westernized populations. Cell Host & Microbe. (2019). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1931312819304275