2011 Science News of the Year: Genes & Cells | Science News

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2011 Science News of the Year: Genes & Cells

12:06pm, December 19, 2011

Nicolle Rager Fuller

Boons and busts via gut microbes

Studying the secret lives of bacteria living in human intestines has yielded some unexpected finds. One study suggests that most humans have one of three different combinations of friendly microbes (SN: 5/21/11, p. 14), and another reveals that people’s mix of microbes depends heavily on diet. Changing the ratios of nutrients consumed tweaks the composition of the microbial populations in the guts of mice carrying human bacteria, scientists find (SN Online: 5/19/11).

Knowing just how to alter the diet to achieve the right mix of microbes may be important for good health, both physical and mental. At least one type of friendly bacteria can send signals from the intestines through the vagus nerve in the neck to influence brain chem

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