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Everyone poops his or her own viruses

Intestinal denizens are unique to each person, genomics study suggests

12:42pm, July 14, 2010

Scientists have conducted a new kind of gut check — one that catalogs viruses found in the intestines of identical twins and their mothers.

The work suggests that each person has a distinctive mix of viruses in their feces, and that mix doesn’t change much over time, say researchers led by Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The new study, which appears in the July 15 Nature, also suggests that viruses and bacteria in the gut aren’t engaging in the molecular arms races that usually characterize how microbes and their viral predators relate to each other.

The new work grew out of the Human Microbiome Project, which seeks to catalog the genetic diversity of bacteria, archaea, and other microbes living in and on the human body.  Gordon’s virome project (for viral genome) identified hundreds of types of viruses, about 80 percent of which were not previously known.  Most of them are bacteriop

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