Monday, December 25, 2006

Keeping up with the metagenome

Biology has changed a bit since the day -- and yet not so much. In my 1970s biology classes ecosystems and emergent interactions were very fashionable ...
John Hawks Anthropology Weblog : 2006 12 0 The metagenome and obesity

...the introduction to the paper by Turnbaugh et al. (2006:1027) puts it well:

The human 'metagenome' is a composite of Homo sapiens genes and genes present in the genomes of the trillions of microbes that colonize our adult bodies. The latter genes are thought to outnumber the former by several orders of magnitude. 'Our' microbial genomes (the microbiome) encode metabolic capacities that we have not had to evolve wholly on our own but remain largely unexplored. These include degradation of otherwise indigestible components of our diet, and therefore may have an impact on our energy balance.
Hawks is highly recommended for anyone who wants to track the development of modern biology and, of course, anthropology.

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