A2: Microbes in the News

Article and link: “Young poo” makes aged fish live longer. Nature. April 04, 2017. Link: https://www.nature.com/news/young-poo-makes-aged-fish-live-longer-1.21770

Summary: Researchers found that giving old killfish the gut microbiome of younger killfish lengthened their lives.  This is the first time that it has been shown that older fish are able to live longer after consuming microbes of younger fish.  In order to do this, the researchers  cleared out the gut flora of old fish with antibiotics then introduced them in an environment with younger fish, where they picked up microbes when sampling other individuals poo to see if it was food.

Critical analysis:  I found this article to be rather intriguing.  It notes that it is thought that the microbiome of other vertebrates becomes less diversified through age, leading to new studies which may reveal other animals may benefit from a younger animal of the species’ microflora since it is far more varied.  I think the article was scientifically accurate since it didn’t go into the specifics of the mechanism.  In fact, that’s kind of what I liked about it.  It acknowledged the shortcomings of not knowing exactly how it worked, while giving a broad sense of why it might worked.  I think the article was geared more toward being like a scientific article, which is to say that I think it fell short of being great at communicating science to the public at large.  It seems structured like a formal paper,  so people may be turned off by this assuming it would be too clinical, but the actual information provided was very interesting if the person stayed to read!

Connection: We have went over the idea of a necessary microbiome in order to be healthy.  When your microbiome is in a poor state, you can be infiltrated by more harmful flora which is the cause of some diseases.

Question: Why do you think the antibiotics increased the lifespan of the old fish without the introduction of young fish microbiome when the article is based around microbiome greatly influencing longevity?