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The interaction between host and microbiome is largely mysterious at this time. Shin et al. demonstrated a profound effect of bacterial enzymatic activity on both development and metabolic rate in Drosophila. I found their methodology sound and their rationale for performing each successive experiment quite reasonable. Therefore, I find it appropriate to draw conclusions from the data. Although they used a model organism far removed from humans, I find the very notion that the absence of particular bacterial strains in an animal's gut could so absolutely impair its development and metabolism. One has to be careful in drawing inference about humans from research in flies. However, in addition to direct implications for glucose metabolism and diabetes, the results of this paper demonstrate that the possible microbiome influence on a host is far greater than I had previously imagined. It suggests, to me at least, that we currently have no conception of the extent to which our own microbiomes may influence us. This possibility should galvanize research efforts in the field of microbiota-host interactions.
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Shin, C. S., Kim, S., You, H., Kim, B., Kim, A. C., Lee, K., Yoon, J., Ryu, J., Lee, W. 2011. Drosophila Microbiome Modulates Host Development and Metabolic Homeostasis via Insulin Signaling. Science. 334: 670-674.
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