Do your gut bacteria control your basic genetics?

We have all been told that your Mum's and Dad's DNA determines your height and build and eye colour. But new research from Washington University School of Medicine show (Nature) that at least some conditions may be passed via gut bacteria and their DNA instead.

The research findiing means that scientists will have to 'substantially expand their thinking' according to co-author Herbert Virgin IV. 'Bacteria are making contributions to our genetics and heredity' he added, 'And this has a great influence on illness and health'.

This new research shows that bacterial DNA can pass from parent to offspring affecting not just immunity and inflammation but basic genetic factors.

The authors, Herbert Virgin and Thad Stappenbeck, first noticed the possibilities when studying IBS, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. They discovered roughly half their mice had low levels in the gut of an antibody called IgA.

When they housed high and low IgA mice together, all become low IgA. When low IgA mothers had babies, all of these were low IgA. Further testing showed that the low IgA was caused by a bacterium called Sutterella. Mice housed together eat each others droppings thus all becoming infected. But the surprise was the finding that mothers with the bacterium and low IgA passed the problem to their new born.

There are about 90 trillion bacteria in the gut, with approximately 75,000 genes. Research quoted in Chris Woollams book - The Secret Source of Your Good Health - indicates that the genes of these bacteria can overcome losses of messages from your own core DNA. Thus they act as protectors and correctors of your geeome. They are the ultimate Epigenetic contributors. Like a host of natural compounds (vitamin D, ECGC, suforophanes, fish oils, curcumin, resveratrol, indole 3 carbinol, conjugated linoleic acid and about 60 more), they can alter the methylation around your core DNA, blocking certain messages and releasing others. 

The Science of Epigenetics offers that even chronic diseases can be reversible.