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It Comes Down to Your Gut... Microbes

After looking at various studies of human intestinal bacteria, Scientific American's Katherine Harmon suggests that the microorganisms play a larger part in human health than previously thought, even at times overshadowing genetics. One key study, Harmon says, is a catalog of about 3.3 million human gut microbe genes — research being done by a team of BGI scientists (which our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News covered here). Harmon also points to work from Emory University's Andrew Gewirtz which has focused on a particular host gene that seems affect intestinal microbes. Those researchers found that a loss of the TLR5 gene in mice leads to a shift in the microbiota communities and an increase in insulin resistance, obesity, and other metabolic disruptions. Gerwitz thinks that inflammation could be driving the cycle of obesity, in conjunction with the changes in gut microbes, in some cases allowing more calories to be extracted from food, though the exact trigger for the cycle is unknown. His group has already started comparing human genes and microbial profiles of healthy people, versus those with metabolic syndrome to see if they can achieve the same results as with the mouse study.

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.