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  1. Symbiotic Bacteria Tell Squid When To Hunt, When To Sleep

    Glowing bacteria that live in the light-generating organs of the tiny bobtail squid play a key role in determining the animal's circadian rhythms -- the natural cycles that help determine when a creature sleeps, wakes, and eats -- according to a study published this week in the journal mBio. It's the first time a symbiotic bacteria has been found to determine the daily habits of its host, and could offer researchers insight into how the bacteria that live in more complicated creatures -- including humans -- may affect our day to day lives.

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  2. Best Scientific Paper Ever Studies Effect of Roller Derby on Microbe Populations

    Ready to feel creepy and crawly all over? Your skin is home to a huge variety of microbial life. Every square inch of you is covered in your own personal home brew microscopic creatures that you carry with you every day. Most of them aren't hurting anything, and some can even be beneficial. But these populations are subject to change, and a study published this week shows that contact sports like roller derby can mingle competitors' skin microbiomes. That means that even when derby divas leave their all on the flat track, they're carrying part of their rink rivals home with them.

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  3. Synthetic Poop Could Fight Hospital-Acquired Stomach Infections

    Researchers at the University of Guelph believe they've given doctors a new weapon in the fight against the pernicious stomach disease Clostridium difficile, which is a problem for patients in hospitals the world over. That weapon? Synthetic human feces. Dubbed RePOOPulate by the researchers who created it -- and thanks for that, because if you're going to name your synthetic poop substitute, by all means, be a little clever about it -- the synthetic poop is a mixture of probiotics that can be transplanted into a patient's intestine to return it to a more balanced bacterial makeup.

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  4. Hyena Microbiome Differs Between Packs, Helps Smell Friend From Foe

    Researchers from Michigan State University have found a wrinkle in how hyenas use their noses that might have implications for how we understand the sense of smell in many other animals as well. Like most species of dogs, hyenas use scent as their primary sense -- it's how they find prey, how they look for mates, and how they communicate with one another. New research published this month in the journal Scientific Reports shows that hyenas from different clans appear to have different colonies of bacteria living in their scent glands. The study marks the first time that widely different communities of odor-causing bacteria have been found in the same species, and could offer insight on how animals communicate by smell.

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  5. Human Gut Bacteria May Come in Three Flavors

    New research published in the journal Nature suggests that the human microbiome -- that is, the community of organisms that live symbiotically within humans -- may occur in certain set varieties. The study, which sequenced the all the available genes in a fecal matter sample, found that those people sampled fell into three categories they call "enterotypes." This research hinges on the growing acceptance of viewing humans as microbiomes. Humans are, after all, made up of many different bacteria and other tiny critters that help us perform fundamental metabolic functions. How these communities are formed is still not well understood, leading scientists to begin identifying the non-human organisms that make up humans. The possibility that humans fall into distinctive enterotypes could lead to a deeper understanding of what goes on within individuals, and possibly better medical treatment.

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