Probiotic Time Travel

Great Scott Professor Brown Marty – time travel takes GUTS!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Self-driving cars, smartwatches, drone delivery — what a time to be alive! But modernization has some pitfalls! Scientists believe that over time, we’ve lost some of our friendly old gut bacteria friends. How can we find these missing microbes? 

Enter Marsha Wibowo from Harvard Medical School and an international team. They looked to our ancestors for the answer! The researchers collected preserved human poop from desert caves in Utah and New Mexico. The poop was over one thousand years old, and contained DNA from ancient gut bacteria! Wibowo analyzed that DNA and compared it to bacteria from modern humans. 

Results? Almost forty percent of the ancient bacteria is unseen in humans today! The researchers believe this may be due to sitting more, consuming more fats, processed foods and antibiotics.

Researchers are working to reconstruct these microbes. Reintroducing them to modern human stomachs may help fight disorders such as obesity and type two diabetes!  

Start the DeLorean, Marty! We’re going back to the future!

Reference: Wibowo, M. C., Yang, Z., Borry, M., Hübner, A., Huang, K. D., Tierney, B. T., Zimmerman, S., Barajas-Olmos, F., Contreras-Cubas, C., García-Ortiz, H., Martínez-Hernández, A., Luber, J. M., Kirstahler, P., Blohm, T., Smiley, F. E., Arnold, R., Ballal, S. A., Pamp, S. J., Russ, J., … Kostic, A. D. (2021). Reconstruction of ancient microbial genomes from the human gut. Nature.