Pigs as Stand-Ins for Microbiome Studies

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Science  08 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6086, pp. 1250
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6086.1250

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The Chinese are testing piglets as a new model for human microbiome research. The past decade has seen an exponential rise in interest in how the microbes living in and on the human body affect health (see p. 1246). Studies often involve germ-free mice, but rodents have a very different physiology and gut microbiota than humans. Pigs, by contrast, have an anatomy and immune system closer to those of people—along with an omnivorous diet and a similar digestive tract.