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Gut bacteria help bears cycle between fat and skinny

Does a bear poop in the woods? The answer to such an obvious question is of course “yes.” Now, bacteria in that poop is revealing how bears hibernate, BBC reports. When bears put on fat in summer, they host different kinds of gut bacteria than when they burn fat in winter. After researchers transplanted some of these bacteria into mice, the mice with summer-bear bacteria got fatter than mice with winter-bear bacteria, all while remaining metabolically healthy, the researchers reported yesterday in Cell. This suggests that the seasonal shifts in bears’ microbiomes help them fulfill their changing metabolic needs. The types of bacteria in bear guts probably won’t help humans lose weight, but the summer bacteria could offer clues to help sick and malnourished people gain weight, the researchers told BBC. 

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