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The body's microbiota helps people and animals break down food, synthesize vitamins, and fight off nastier microbes, and Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science writes that killing off the microbiota through antibiotic use may be a factor in the rise of obesity. A new study in Nature from Martin Blaser's group at New York University School of Medicine find that giving young mice sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics — levels used in agriculture — affects the makeup of their microbiome, changes gene expression, and leads to an increase in adiposity. "This smorgasbord of changes suggests that the young rodents' encounters with antibiotics had changed the microbes in their guts, to a cadre that was better at harvesting calories from otherwise indigestible food," Yong write. "To cope with their flood of liberated calories, they pile on more fat." However, Yong notes that further study is needed to determine the effect of such antibiotic use on people.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.