The power of microbes

Bacteria that live in the gut may help define species

By Stephen Ornes, 13:44 PM July 11, 2013


This is a jewel wasp from the species Nasonia vitripennis. New research suggests this species differs from others not only in its genes, but also in the microbes that live in its gut. Credit: M.E. Clark/Wikimedia Commons



A living animal is never alone. Its body — like yours — is home to trillions of microbes, or tiny single-celled organisms. Those microbes aren’t just hitchhiking. They can play an important role in separating species, researchers now report.


That discovery comes from a study on gut microbes in jewel wasps. Seth Bordenstein, a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn, led the research. He and coworker Robert Brucker studied what happened when different species of jewel wasps pr...

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