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Smartphone Study Shows How Life Hits Us in the Gut (Bacteria)

Life's ups and downs affect the trillions of bacteria in our gut in detectable ways, based on a year’s worth of data from two researchers who studied their own poop. They used a smartphone app to log their daily activity, and provided regular saliva and stool samples. The results, published in Genome Biology, suggest that the microbial community in our digestive tract, known as the microbiome, fluctuates depending on our diet and activities. But it usually returns to a happy medium.

"On any given day, the amount of one species could change manyfold, but after a year, that species would still be at the same median level," MIT's Eric Alm said in a news release. He and his colleague, Lawrence David, each went through a major change: Alm suffered a case of Salmonella poisoning, and David took a trip to Southeast Asia (with diarrheal consequences). Their microbiomes reflected those upsets, but both bacterial communities rebounded. Eventually the researchers want to create a personalized monitoring system that would give users an early warning about intestinal flare-ups.

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