"Traditional research has studied autism as a genetic disorder and a disorder of the brain, but our work shows that gut bacteria may contribute to ASD-like symptoms in ways that were previously unappreciated," says Professor of Biology Sarkis K. Mazmanian. "Gut physiology appears to have effects on what are currently presumed to be brain functions."
As many as 1 million nematode species are thought to live on Earth, and many are pests or parasites that ravage crops and spread diseases. They also happen to share many genes that are found in humans, and are intensively researched by labs around the world.
The human body is full of tiny microorganisms—hundreds to thousands of species of bacteria collectively called the microbiome, which are believed to contribute to a healthy existence. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract—and the colon in particular—is home to the largest concentration and highest diversity of bacterial species. But how do these organisms persist and thrive in a system that is constantly in flux due to foods and fluids moving through it? A team led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologist Sarkis Mazmanian believes it has found the answer, at least in one common group of bacteria: a set of genes that promotes stable microbial colonization of the gut.
Biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have worked out the details of a mechanism that leads undifferentiated blood stem cells to become macrophages—immune cells that attack bacteria and other foreign pathogens.
A team of researchers led by newly arrived Caltech biologist Mitchell Guttman and Kathrin Plath of UCLA, has figured out how some RNA molecules take advantage of their position within the 3-D structure of genomic material to home in on targets.