Gut Bacteria Often Similar in Humans, Chimps: Study
TUESDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Humans and chimpanzees have much in common, biologically speaking, and that may now include certain communities -- or ecosystems -- of gut bacteria, a new study finds.
Gut bacteria play a crucial role in collecting nutrients from food, helping the immune system and protecting people against disease-causing viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.
Yale University researchers have been investigating why gut bacteria organize themselves into three distinct communities called enterotypes. Each person seems to have one of the three enterotypes in their gut, but some scientists have suggested that enterotypes may merely be the product of different types of diets.
However, this new study found that chimpanzees in Gombe National Park in Tanzania have the same three enterotypes as humans, which indicates that enterotypes may have played an important evolutionary role in humans and great apes, the Yale team said.
In addition, gut bacteria samples taken from individual chimpanzees throughout their lives revealed that enterotypes change over a chimp's lifetime, the investigators found.
"This shared [human and chimpanzee] organization of the gut microbial community is millions of years old and the findings attest to their functional importance," Howard Ochman, an author of the study and director of the Microbial Diversity Institute, said in a Yale news release.
"Now that we know enterotypes have been maintained over evolutionary timescales, our goal is to determine their functions and how they might be important to the health of their hosts," Ochman said.
The study was published Nov. 13 in the journal Nature Communications.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about the bacterial makeup of the body.
-- Robert Preidt
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Top Features in Contagious Diseases
Popular Infections and Contagious Diseases Slide Shows
Infection and Contagious Diseases Quizzes
- Botulism Quiz
- Cat Scratch Disease Quiz
- Common Cold Quiz
- Ear Infection Quiz
- E. coli Illness Quiz
- Flu Quiz
- Food Safety Quiz
- Hantavirus Quiz
- Meningitis Quiz
- Pet Diseases Quiz
- Pinworms Quiz
- Streptococcal Infections Quiz
- Tetanus Quiz
- Food Poisoning Quiz
- International Travel Quiz
- West Nile Virus Quiz
- Germs Quiz
Health News TodayFeed
- More Measles Cases Seen in January Than in Typical Year: CDC01/30/2015
- Tamiflu Cuts 1 Day Off Average Flu Bout, Study Finds01/30/2015
- Flu's Grip on U.S. Starting to Weaken: CDC01/29/2015
- Arizona Officials Say Nearly 1,000 People May Have Been Exposed to Measles01/29/2015
- Little Improvement in Children Paralyzed After Viral Infection, Study Finds01/29/2015
- View More Infections and Contagious Diseases News