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Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

A team from the University of Pennsylvania, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia consider gut microbial ties to circadian rhythms in the Drosophila fruit fly for a paper appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing, RNA sequencing, and other approaches, the researchers tracked gut microbial community patterns and gut cycling-related gene expression patterns over time in Drosophila fruit flies on a light-dark exposure cycle that received timed feedings or feeding as often as desired. Both microbe loss and timed feeding appear to influence circadian features in the gut, independently and in combination, they write. In particular, the authors saw enhanced stress sensitivity in fruit flies on the time-feeding regimen, along with faster-than-usual light-to-dark transcript cycling changes in germ-free flies. Based on these and other findings, the authors suggest that "the microbiome stabilizes cycling in the host gut to prevent rapid fluctuations with changing environmental conditions."