In DepthMicrobiome

Ancient poop reveals extinction in gut bacteria

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Science  14 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6543, pp. 671
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6543.671

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Summary

In a study published in Nature, researchers analyzed ancient DNA from coprolites, or preserved feces, found at the back of rock shelters in Utah and Mexico. The data give scientists their first good look at ancient gut bacterial communities. They suggest that over the past millennium, the human gut has experienced an "extinction event," losing dozens of species and becoming significantly less diverse. The findings also suggest we've lost a lot of our microbial helpers in the recent past, and our bodies may not have had time to adapt to the change—potentially increasing the risk for metabolic disease, allergies, and diabetes. The work also raised ethical questions about the use of samples from Indigenous people.

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