May 8, 2011

Gut microbes: What's your type?

When European researchers set out to use gene sequencing to catalog the hundreds of species of microbes in the human gut, they expected to find variation between individuals and perhaps even between geographic groups -- but they assumed that there would be a large number of different possible combinations of bacteria.

Instead, said bioinformatics expert Peer Bork of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, gut bacteria seem to cluster into just three distinct and stable combinations that show up across populations from a variety of backgrounds -- a discovery that could have implications for medicine in the future. 

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