Aug 2017 Week1 – fighting flu, finding flowers and flossing

Notes from the world of science
Vanitas by Adam Bernaert, 1665,  via Wikimedia Commons
A chemical made by gut microbes protects mice from influenza virus

Mouse gut microbes make a chemical that protects the mouse from a lethal dose of influenza virus [1].  This chemical  “desaminotyrosine” is made by bacteria from Flavonoid compounds (think colored fruits and veggies ) [2].

Desaminotyrosine goes from the gut, into the blood and then into the body.  It helps the immune cells of the body to identify cells that are infected by Influenza virus – leading to their death.

The researchers even used “desamino tyrosine” made by human gut microbes, to protect mice who had lost their friendly gut bacteria.

Based on this, the researchers recommend “eat more plants for influenza resilience”. While, we must bear in mind that the work was done on “mice”, it’s good to know one reason why those flavonoids could be helping us stay healthy.

What did the first ever flower of flowering plants look like?

In this study, researchers reconstructed the appearance of a 140 million-year-old flower.

Three-dimensional model of the ancestral flower by Sauquet et al., Nature Comunications Aug 2017, via Creative Commons

They studied 792 species of flowering plants and 27 features of their flowers – such as an arrangement of petals, number, and arrangement of sex organs etc.

They predict that this ancient flower had both male and female parts. During the evolution of flowers, flowers with either one or both types of sexual organs have emerged multiple times.

Credit:  Sauquet et al., Nature Comunications Aug 2017, via Creative Commons

I really liked the way they show the emergence of traits in this paper.

Credit: Wellcome Library, London A tooth-drawer using a cord to extract a tooth from an agonized patient. Coloured engraving by J. Collier, 1810, after himself, 1773, via Creative Commons

Researchers asked sixty six thousand post-menopausal women  if they had gum disease. They were then followed up for about a decade for to see if they got cancer [1].

The study found a curious association between gum disease and cancer risk.  It is still too early to tell why or really understand this risk.

I will keep a lookout for more in this area.

Meanwhile, I am thinking, a visit to the dentist is not a bad idea!

References and Further Reading

1.The original work  “The microbial metabolite desaminotyrosine protects from influenza through type I interferon.” Steed AL, Christophi GP, Kaiko GE, Sun L, Goodwin VM, Jain U, Esaulova E, Artyomov MN, Morales DJ, Holtzman MJ, Boon ACM, Lenschow DJ, Stappenbeck TS. Science. 2017 Aug 4;357(6350):498-502. doi: 10.1126/science.aam5336.

2. Some food sources of Flavanoids from “Improving the estimation of flavonoid intake for study of health outcomes”, Julia J. Peterson, Johanna T. Dwyer, Paul F. Jacques, Marjorie L. McCullough, Nutr Rev. 2015 Aug; 73(8): 553–576. Published online 2015 Jun 16. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv008

3. The original article reconstructing the ancient flower –The ancestral flower of angiosperms and its early diversification“. Sauquet H, von Balthazar M, Magallón S, Doyle JA, Endress PK, Bailes EJ, Barroso de Morais E, Bull-Hereñu K, Carrive L, Chartier M, Chomicki G, Coiro M, Cornette R, El Ottra JHL, Epicoco C, Foster CSP, Jabbour F, Haevermans A, Haevermans T, Hernández R, Little SA, Löfstrand S, Luna JA, Massoni J, Nadot S, Pamperl S, Prieu C, Reyes E, Dos Santos P, Schoonderwoerd KM, Sontag S, Soulebeau A, Staedler Y, Tschan GF, Wing-Sze Leung A, Schönenberger J. Nat Commun. 2017 Aug 1;8:16047. doi: 10.1038/ncomms16047.

4. An abstract of the article is here –Periodontal Disease and Incident Cancer Risk among Postmenopausal Women: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort.Nwizu NN, Marshall JR, Moysich K, Genco RJ, Hovey KM, Mai X, LaMonte MJ, Freudenheim JL, Wactawski-Wende J.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Aug;26(8):1255-1265. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0212