Friday, June 02, 2006

Twice as Many Genes in our Gut as in our Body

I have this fasination with all the microbes living in my gut. Why? Because of all the cells in our bodies 90 percent of the cells are actually bacteria. So the majority of "me" is actually bacteria. And yet we know little about our more populous half. So I was excited to see Steven Gill at the The Institute for Genomic Research publish some research.

Bacteria start to colonize the intestines and colon shortly after birth, and adults carry up to 100 trillion microbes, representing more than 1,000 different species.
1,000 different species, interesting. I would be interested to know how much diversity there is between humans in the type of bacteria they have living in their guts.
They compared the gene sequences to those from known bacteria and to the human genome and found this so-called colon microbiome -- the entire sum of genetic material from microbes in the lower gut -- includes more than 60,000 genes.

That is twice as many as found in the human genome.
That's amazing. We have twice as many genes in the bacterias living in our guts than we do in our own DNA.

What is next?
The next study will focus on the bacteria in the mouth, Gill said. There are at least 800 species in the mouth and maybe more, Gill said.
Cool. There was a Wired article a while back talking about how they are looking into bioengineering a bacteria for the mouth that wouldn't cause cavities. Still waiting for that.

via Reuters

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