TUESDAY, Feb. 23, 2021 — Researchers have identified more than 140,000 viruses that live in the human gut, including half that were previously unknown.
The number and variety of viruses found in more than 28,000 gut microbiome samples gathered from different parts of the world are surprisingly high, according to the study authors.
The researchers added that their findings will lead to new research to learn how gut viruses affect our health.
In the age of COVID, “it’s important to remember that not all viruses are harmful, but represent an integral component of the gut ecosystem. For one thing, most of the viruses we found have DNA as their genetic material, which is different from the pathogens most people know, such as SARS-CoV-2 or Zika, which are RNA viruses,” explained researcher Alexandre Almeida. He’s a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute.
“Secondly, these samples came mainly from healthy individuals who didn’t share any specific diseases. It’s fascinating to see how many unknown species live in our gut, and to try and unravel the link between them and human health,” Almeida said in a Wellcome news release.
There is great biodiversity in the human gut. Along with bacteria, it contains hundreds of thousands of viruses called bacteriophages, which can infect bacteria…