Study reveals how families share microbes, even with dogs

Apr 22, 2013

A study that began during the post-doctoral work of Northern Arizona University's Gregory Caporaso is shedding some light on how adults, and their dogs and kids, share microbial communities.

And while you can try to blame your spring cold on the youngster of the house, it's actually the family dog that contributes more to adults sharing their microbiomes with one another.

"What we've been learning is the that live in and on our bodies can play a big role in our health," said Caporaso, assistant professor of biology. "What was exciting about this study was how cohabitation affected microbial communities. It's a unique data set."

We all have bacteria in our , but Caporaso explained that while any two humans are 99 percent identical in their genomes, their "gut communities" of bacteria may be up to 50 percent different. It's those differences that interest researchers, who seek to link them to the origins of obesity, or even .

"What factors are driving the differences between the microbial communities in my gut and your gut? This study was an attempt to see if who you're living with is one of the factors," Caporaso said.

As it turns out, individuals from the same household—particularly couples—share more of their microbiome than they do with other individuals, and having a dog resulted in even a greater similarity because of shared contact with the animal.

For the study, published in eLIFE, Caporaso assisted with data analysis and offered advice for statistical approaches. The senior author, associate professor Rob Knight of the University of Colorado Boulder, was Caporaso's post-doctoral adviser.

At NAU, Caporaso's lab develops an open-source software package that is a leader in the field for studying microbial communities.

"A lot of these studies are enabled by our advances in DNA sequencing," Caporaso said. "Bioinformatics techniques enable the analysis of the massive quantities of data typically involved in these studies."

Explore further: Two-armed control of ATR, a master regulator of the DNA damage checkpoint

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

You are not what you eat

Nov 16, 2010

The types of gut bacteria that populate the guts of primates depend on the species of the host as well as where the host lives and what they eat. A study led by Howard Ochman at Yale University examines the gut microbial ...

Recommended for you

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

Dec 19, 2014

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

Dec 18, 2014

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.