Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Red-bellied lemurs maintain gut health through touching and 'huddling' each other


December 5, 2017

Scientists have found a direct link between physical contact and gut bacteria in red-bellied lemurs. Likely passed through 'huddling' behaviour and touch, the findings suggest implications for human health.

The University of Oxford worked in collaboration with scientists from several universities, including the University of Arizona and Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), on the research, published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology, to better understand causes of diversity within the animal's gut microbiome, the community of various bacteria that live inside the intestine.

These bacteria play a key role in both animal and human health, aiding digestion and tuning our individual immunity. The right mix of gut microbes set the parameters of our immune defence, blocking pathogens and informing our ability to recognise bacterial enemies, from friends.

Aura Raulo, lead author and graduate student at Oxford's Department of Zoology, said: 'In close social groups like red-bellied lemurs, social environment is key to immunity. Animals that touch each other more tend to spread microbes, both good and bad, but eventually frequent social contact leads to a synchronised microbiome. Because microbes tune immune defence, this can be seen as a form of cooperative immunity: Sharing microbial allies and enemies makes infections by opportunist pathogens less likely.

'When people with different gut microbiomes interact, they share their symbiotic bacteria through touch. This bacterial transmission can make us more or less healthy, depending on how compatible our guts are with our friends. For example, I might host a bacteria in my gut that is well-behaved, and fits my symbiotic gut community, but might turn out to be an invasive pathogen in another person who is not accustomed to it. '

No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis