Gut-flora-free fish help microbiologists

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Researchers have developed a strain of Zebra danio which lacks a flora of gut microbes and intends to use the fish as a model organism to investigate digestive problems in humans, says Eurekalert.

Every animal has a natural flora of gut microbes which form a symbiotic relationship with the host and help to digest foods, but the presence of such a wide variety of microorganisms makes it hard to tell what has caused any effects seen in the lab.

Among other projects being undertaken, the scientists can recolonize the gut with specific bacteria to monitor their effect.

The paper, which is due for publication later this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) also describes for the first time the gut flora of Zebra danios.