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Gut microbes battle a common set of viruses shared by global populations

The human gut is home to a teeming ecosystem of microbes that is intimately involved in both human health and disease. But while the gut microbiota is interacting with our body, they are also under constant attack from viruses. In a study published online in Genome Research , researchers have analyzed a bacterial immune system, revealing a common set of viruses associated with gut microbiota in global populations.

Viruses that prey on bacteria, called phages, pose a constant threat to the health of bacterial communities. In many ecological systems, viruses outnumber bacterial cells ten to one. Given the richness of bacteria in the human gut, it was not surprising that scientists have found that phages are also highly prevalent. But how can viruses targeting gut microbiota be identified? How do viral communities differ between people and global populations, and what could this tell us about human health and disease?
 
 

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