Gut bacteria co-evolved with animal hosts, offers human evolution clues
Based on the DNA sequence of a moderately conserved gene in all bacteria, researchers have found that bacterial strains diverged and began to evolve separately in the guts of humans and chimpanzees 5 million years ago, and in humans and gorillas 15 million years ago. These dates are similar to when humans and apes evolved into a new species. It may now be possible to determine if this mutually beneficial relationship between gut bacteria and their animal hosts contributed to the formation of a new species. A perspective on the research from NHGRI Senior Investigator Julie Segre, Ph.D., appeared in the July 22 issue of Science.
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