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They Have Teeny-Tiny Suitcases

Do gut microbes migrate? That what one microbiologist asked his colleagues at the International Human Microbiome Congress in Paris in March, says Veronique Greenwood at the 80beats blog. The University of Toronto's James Scott made a presentation on the gut microbiomes of babies, and said that he found the same microbes in the babies' poop as in the dust in their homes. "It's not clear whether this means that bacteria in the dust are colonizing the babies or vice versa — or both — but it's still something of a surprise," Greenwood says. "Gut microbes don't seem like the sort to thrive outside the body, as they tend to require an oxygen-free environment."

The implication of this finding, she adds, is that other people in the home could pick up microbes from each other. This could be tested by sequencing the gut microbiomes of people living in the same house and comparing them to strangers' microbiomes. "There's also room to speculate that as we learn more about the microbiome's relationship to disease, the swapping of microbes within a household could reveal an infectious component to illnesses that we don't currently think of that way," Greenwood says. "It's just a speculation now, but an interesting one."

The Scan

CDC Calls Delta "Variant of Concern"

CNN reports the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 to be a "variant of concern."

From FDA to Venture Capital

Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn is taking a position at a venture capital firm, leading some ethicists to raise eyebrows, according to the Washington Post.

Consent Questions

Nature News writes that there are questions whether informed consent was obtained for some submissions to a database of Y-chromosome profiles.

Cell Studies on Multimodal Single-Cell Analysis, Coronaviruses in Bats, Urban Microbiomes

In Cell this week: approach to analyze multimodal single-cell genomic data, analysis of bat coronaviruses, and more.