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Genes may influence body's bacteria

Certain DNA variants associated with microbial types

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4:05pm, May 11, 2012

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. — Microbes aren’t completely the boss of their human hosts. People’s genes may have a say in which microbes come to live in and on the human body, a new study suggests.

Recent research has shown that the mix of microbes living in and on the human body is associated with some diseases. But exactly what determines which microbes settle a particular human host has been a mystery. Diet and geography are partially responsible, but the part human genetics plays in determining the microbial mix on the body has been unclear.

“We know there is a genetic component,” says Ran Blekhman, a geneticist at Cornell University. “We’re just not sure how big it is.”

To find out, Blekhman and his colleagues turned to data collected by the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to genetically catalog the microbes living in and on the human body. Though the project looks for bacterial DNA in sw

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