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Could bacterial hitchhikers influence formation of new host species?

Literature tells us that "no man is an island entire unto itself," but science reveals that we are in fact a walking, talking colony of microscopic creatures.

Every plant and animal species carries its own set of bacterial fellow travelers. Since the early 20th century, scientists have argued what role these colonies play in promoting or inhibiting the formation of new species.

A team of Vanderbilt biologists is attempting to answer this long-standing question thanks to a $1.3 million award from the National Science Foundation. In order to do so, the team will use a tiny species of wasp, called Nasonia. The species carries bacteria that have demonstrated the ability to influence their host's sexual behavior.


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