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Your Feces Is a Wonderland of Viruses 211

sciencehabit writes "Thanks to an anlaysis of fecal samples from four sets of Missouri-born female identical twins and their mothers, researchers have concluded that human guts harbor viruses as unique as the people they inhabit; the viral lineup differs even between identical twins. Even more surprising? These viruses may be doing good work inside of us."
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Your Feces Is a Wonderland of Viruses

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  • Re:Evolution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Reilaos ( 1544173 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:42PM (#32906116) Homepage

    Well, it's not inside all of us, guessing by the article. It differs between all of us, and besides, people generally think of viruses as bad things. Bacteria, yes, but I can't really think of very useful viruses.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:55PM (#32906336)

    Could you please source this one? I'm no biologist, but I'm fairly certain that most of the human mass, and cell count is still that of human. You may be referring to our gastrointestinal tract, where indeed the human cells are just the superstructure and enzyme-generating tissue and various absorbing surfaces, and much of the actual work breaking down the food is done by bacterial cells that are non-human. Elsewhere however, I just don't see that being possible, seeing just how aggressive our immune system is, and how carefully tuned many issues (such as nerve and bone for example) are.

    Some internal organs also utilize bacterial assistance for some chemical processes, but I find myself sceptical that they would form a majority of cells in human body.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @05:00PM (#32906402) Homepage

    Not strictly "born with all these built in" - remember that those who are born naturally have quite prolonged contact of their mouths with mother's vagina/etc., for starters. And IIRC those after caesarean section can show some "irregularities" in bacterial flora.

    I even have an impression that dietary preferences might change in some real way, not just by habit & accustomization, after regular close contact with people from slightly different areas...

  • Re:Evolution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @05:06PM (#32906514) Journal

    I just read a Scientific American article discussing how plants selectively hold on to certain viruses that benefit them. A researcher inoculated tomato plants with mycorrhiza from plants found growing near very hot springs in Yellowstone. Viruses in the mycorrhiza infected the tomatoes, granting them the ability to grow in temperatures up to 140F. Best of all, the plants passed the beneficial viruses on to their offspring in the seed coating.

  • by xTantrum ( 919048 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @11:32PM (#32909446)
    I love the way they extrapolated the data from identical twins to "everybody". When will scientists learn just how utterly mysterious the world around us is, and stop thinking they know everything. they don't know for sure what happens as we age, the potential difference between genders, variations as a result of diet etc..etc..etc... I think it was Einstein who said: "its a wonder individuals have any curiosity after university."

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