Monday, April 12, 2010

Sushi Love

A recent study in the journal Nature suggests that genes from a marine microbe have been transferred to human gut bacteria. This is the first clear case of gut microbes taking genes from ingested bacteria, allowing them to exploit a new niche. These genes encode for algae-digesting enzymes which break down carbohydrates, carbohydrates that are found in the red algae of the genus Porphyra, known to sushi lovers as nori. What makes this story important? It the clear-cut nature of the transfer, a pretty rare event.

Get more information about the encoded enzymes and their actions here: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100407/full/news.2010.169.html
The Nature article: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7290/full/nature08937.html (DOI: 10.1038/nature08937)

(image from weblogs.fox40.com)
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