This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday January 18, 2016

A round-up of what we read - and listened to - last week in the media's coverage of biofilms and microbiomes research.

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Socializing is known to help you live longer, and that might have something to do with how it affects your gut. A rich social life leads to a greater diversity of bacteria living in chimps’ intestines, according to a study published in Science Advances.Researchers based at The University of Texas at Austin, Duke University, The University of California, Berkeley and other institutions monitored changes in the gut microbes and social behavior of wild chimpanzees. Their research -- linked to a population of chimpanzees studied over eight years in Gombe National Park, Tanzania -- found that the number of bacteria species in each chimp's GI tract increases when the chimps are more gregarious. "The more diverse people's microbiomes are, the more resistant they seem to be to opportunistic infections," said Andrew Moeller, research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.The paper received media attention from Daily Mail, Science World Report, Science Codex and PBS Newshour amongst others. You can also listen to Scientific American’s 60 second podcast on this story.

Our modern low-fiber diets may destroy our gut bacteria over generations, suggests a new study published in the journal Nature. This mouse study led by microbiologists Justin and Erica Sonnenburg of Stanford University, suggests that in mice on a low fiber diet, the diversity of the microbiota is depleted and that this effect is transferred and compounded over generations, such that the low abundant taxa are progressively lost from one generation to the next, particularly those of the order Bacteroidales, which are proficient in the consumption of dietary fibre. This phenotype is not reversible simply by reintroducing dietary Microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs) which are abundant in dietary fiber, but requires supplementation of the missing taxa via faecal microbiota transplantation. These findings suggest that a change in diet alone may be insufficient to restore a healthy microbiota in individuals with dysbiosis. The paper was highlighted by The Atlantic, The Scientist, The Los Angeles Times, Medical Daily and many other media outlets.

We’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this week. Please comment below.

Richa Dandona

Partnerships and Operations Manager, Nature Partner Journals, Nature Research