Chimps may pro­vide key to disease risk

The Gympie Times - - NEWS NATION -

A NEW study of our clos­est ge­netic rel­a­tive, the chim­panzee, could un­lock the risk of obe­sity and autism.

The Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia study will fo­cus on the gut health of the pri­mates, send­ing PhD stu­dent Natasha Coutts to Rwanda to re­search how the bac­te­ria in chimps’ stom­achs are im­pacted by habi­tat degra­da­tion.

Gut bac­te­ria has an im­por­tant role in di­ges­tion and aids the pro­duc­tion of Vi­ta­mins B and K. It can also in­flu­ence the risk of dis­eases such as obe­sity, Crohn’s disease, asthma and autism.

Ms Coutts said un­der­stand­ing the gut health of chimps could have im­pli­ca­tions on how we un­der­stand it in hu­mans.

“Hu­mans and chim­panzees are so closely re­lated that it’s highly likely the re­sults from this re­search will be ap­pli­ca­ble to ques­tions sur­round­ing the hu­man gut mi­cro­biome (bac­te­ria) as well,” she said.

Habi­tat frag­men­ta­tion has been shown to de­crease plant bio­di­ver­sity The study will com­pare how this af­fects chimps’ gut bac­te­ria.

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