Tuesday, May 7, 2019

It Is Said You Are What You Eat: A Case In Point

Image result for microbiotaEnvironmental & Science Education
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

There is a large ecosystem of microorganisms (aka microbiota) in the gut. They help digest foot, fight infections, and break down dangerous substances. 

Baboon researchers have learned that the gut microbiota of baboons varies across baboon populations. Well this is the sort of thing that fascinates scientists. How did this happen. Genetics? Is it the distance separating baboon populations? The environment? Or is it a combination of factors?

Researchers collected samples of "poop" (or to use the more technical term--stool) from 14 different baboon populations in Kenya comprised of yellow and olive baboons. They interbreed. They examined 13 different environmental characteristics such as vegetation, climate, and soil and also analyzed the baboons' DNA.

The most important factor was very clear: soil. It was better than all the other variables. By better scientists mean that soil was the best at predicting gut microbiota.

Helen Santoro reported in Science on the findings of the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Much of the food baboons consume "come straight off the ground with a dusting of soil, providing a perfect entryway for the soil microbes to colonize the baboon's guts."

This work leads to still another question (the research cycle continues): "How do these soil microbes survive once they take up residence in an animal's intestines?"

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