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Identical twins may not be so identical when it comes to gut bacteria

Study suggests intestinal microbe populations vary widely

2:52pm, March 29, 2010

Identical twins may share appearances, mannerisms, even clothes — but the microbes living in their guts are anything but the same. By comprehensively sequencing microbial genes in the gut, researchers have found that communities of bacteria in adult identical twins differ dramatically. The findings, to appear online during the week of March 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, give scientists a deeper understanding of what makes one person’s intestinal bacteria different from another’s.

Figuring out what’s behind the composition and function of a person’s gut bacteria is “a very important problem,” comments microbiologist Frederic Bushman of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Bacteria in the intestines spur digestion, manufacture vitamins and keep people healthy; changes in gut bacteria have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome and metabolic disorders. Because of their role in

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