In DepthMicrobiology

Genetics may foster bugs that keep you thin

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  07 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6210, pp. 687
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6210.687

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Gut microbes are soldiers in the battle of the bulge, with some organisms seeming to promote thinness and others triggering weight gain. Now, a study of twins shows that genetics can provide an edge in the microbial battle. Researchers collected more than 1000 stool samples from 171 identical and 245 fraternal pairs of twins, as well as 173 samples from unrelated individuals. They found that although environmental factors are quite important, the twins' genetics are an important determinant of the abundance of some bacteria. One of those appears to keep waistlines trim. When they put this bacterium into germ-free mice, it helped keep those rodents lean. The work, published in the 6 November issue of Cell, raises hopes for microbial treatments for obesity.