Feature

Of mice and microbes

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Science  19 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6301, pp. 741-743
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6301.741

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Summary

In the search for hidden variables that might threaten the reproducibility of animal research, scientists are starting to question the potential impact of the microbiome—the zoo of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that call lab mice home. The species in and on each furry research subject are constantly changing and difficult to measure, but they may influence the outcome of an experiment. And it's not an option to simply wipe out lab mice's microbial guests, some of which are critical for health and make the animals into robust, meaningful research subjects. Now, some researchers are looking for ways to measure and manipulate this shifty variable.