Primates, bacteria of microbiome evolved together

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The symbiotic relationship between the bacterial strains that make up a large portion of the gut microbiome and their primate hosts has evolved for around 15 million years, according to a study published today (July 20) in Science. While the full spectrum of bacteria that populate our digestive tracts are influenced by factors like antibiotic usediet, and birth mode, the results suggest that the gut bacterial strains in modern humans evolved and diverged from ancestral bacterial strains in parallel with the evolution and divergence of humans from our hominid ancestors.

“This paper sets the stage for the possibility that our mutualistic gut bacteria evolved at the same rate as hominids, which, to me, suggests that this mutualistic symbiosis helped the human species evolve,” said Julie Segre, a microbial genomics researcher at the National Human Genome Research Institute, in Bethesda, Maryland…

“It is surprising that bacteria acquired from external sources show such a pattern of inheritance, as if they were vertically inherited, just like our genes,” Ochman noted.

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Read full, original post: Primates, Gut Microbes Evolved Together

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