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Reversing ecology reveals ancient environments
Date:2/25/2009

y the organism's environment but also its relationship to other species. For example, they detected a specific signature for adaptation between a parasite and host. What's more, they could tell what kind of host the parasite was living in based on the alignment between the environment a parasite requires and that required by the host. "We can see a signal to distinguish between a mammal parasite and an insect parasite," Borenstein said. "And how the interaction evolved over time."

Now that they have a data set that reveals the current and ancient environment of hundreds of bacterial species, Borenstein and colleagues hope to use their data to discern major environmental events of the past, including key events in the history of life on Earth.

The next step is to move from looking at individual bacteria species to entire communities. In particular, Borenstein hopes to explore large collections of host-dwelling bacteria like those living in the human gut or mouth or the communities found in soils. The complicated and intricate ecology of these systems should now be accessible given the genomic data that researchers continue to unveil.

"The important thing," Borenstein said, "is that we now know there is a way to learn ecology from genomic data, and we can do this on a very large scale."


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Contact: Louis Bergeron
louisb3@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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