Gut microbiomes may run in families

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New York, May 12 (IANS) Some microbes in our gut may be heritable as researchers have found that parts of our microbiomes are inherited and shaped — not through a spread of microbes from parent to child, but through our genes.

Humans and their microbes are part of symbiotic relationship. We provide our gut bacteria with a place to live and nutrients to grow, while they help us break down food and fight off more pathogenic invaders.

The results, revealing new examples of heritable bacterial species — including those related to diet preference, metabolism, and immune defence — appeared in the journal in Cell Host & Microbe.

“We set out to find out about human genes that are implicated in the regulation of the gut microbiome, and we found some that are,” said the study’s senior author Ruth Ley, associate professor at Cornell University in the US.

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The findings are based on a genome-wide association analysis of over 1,000 pairs of twins in Britain.

One connection they were able to make was between the LCT gene, which is involved in making the enzyme that helps the body digest dairy, and a type of microorganism called Bifidobacterium, which is commonly used in probiotics.

They also found links between specific gut bacteria blood pressure and self/non-self recognition.

“Based on our research, we identified more than a dozen microbes with known links to health that are heritable,” Ley said.

“These microorganisms are environmentally acquired, but the genome also plays a part–by determining which microorganisms are more dominant than others,” Ley explained.



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