Gene-Editing Unintentionally Adds Bovine DNA, Goat DNA, and Bacterial DNA, Mouse Researchers Find

The gene-editing of DNA inside living cells is considered by many to be the preeminent technological breakthrough of the new millennium. Researchers in medicine and agriculture have rapidly adopted it as a technique for discovering cell and organism functions. But its commercial prospects are much more complicated.

Gene-editing has many potential uses. These include altering cells to treat human disease, altering crops and livestock for breeding and agriculture. Furthermore, in a move that has been widely criticised, Chinese researcher He Jiankui claims to have edited human babies to resist HIV by altering a gene called CCR5.

For most commercial applications gene-editing’s [purported] appeal is simplicity and precision: it alters genomes at precise sites and without inserting foreign DNA. This is why, in popular articles, gene-editing is often referred to as ‘tweaking’.

The tweaking narrative, however, is an assumption and not an established fact. And it recently suffered a large dent. In late July researchers from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysed the whole genomes of two calves originally born in 2016. The calves were edited by the biotech startup Recombinetics using a gene-editing method called TALENS (Norris et al., 2019). The two Recombinetics animals had become biotech celebrities for having a genetic change that removed their horns. Cattle without horns are known as ‘polled’. The calves are well-known because Recombinetics has insisted that its two edited animals were extremely precisely altered to possess only the polled trait.

However, what the FDA researchers found was not precision. Each of Recombinetics’ calves possessed two antibiotic resistance genes, along with other segments of superfluous bacterial DNA. Thus, apparently unbeknownst to Recombinetics, adjacent to its edited site were 4,000 base pairs of DNA that originated from the plasmid vector used to introduce the DNA required for the hornless trait.

The FDA finding has attracted some media attention; mainly focussed on the incompetence of Recombinetics. The startup failed to find (or perhaps look for) DNA it had itself added as part of the editing process. Following the FDA findings, Brazil terminated a breeding program begun with the Recombinetics animals.

These findings have not been reported in the scientific or popular media. But they are of great consequence from a biosafety perspective and therefore for the commercial and regulatory landscape of gene-editing. They imply, at the very least, the need for strong measures to prevent contamination by stray DNA, along with thorough scrutiny of gene-edited cells and gene-edited organisms. And, as the Recombinetics case suggests, these are needs that developers themselves may not meet.But FDA’s findings are potentially trivial besides another recent discovery about gene-editing: that foreign DNA from surprising sources can routinely find its way into the genome of edited animals. This genetic material is not DNA that was put there on purpose, but rather, is a contaminant of standard editing procedures….

https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/gene-editing-unintentionally-adds-bovine-dna-goat-dna-and-bacterial-dna-mouse-researchers-find/

944 Trillion Reasons Why The Fed Is Quietly Bailing Out Hedge Funds

On Friday, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari, who just two months earlier made a stunning proposal when he said that it was time for the Fed to pick up where the USSR left off and start redistributing wealth (at least Kashkari chose the proper entity: since the Fed has launched central planning across US capital markets, it would also be proper in the banana republic that the US has become, that the same Fed also decides who gets how much and the entire democracy/free enterprise/free market farce be skipped altogetherissued a challenge to “QE conspiracists” which apparently now also includes his FOMC colleague (and former Goldman Sachs co-worker), Robert Kaplan, in which he said “QE conspiracists can say this is all about balance sheet growth. Someone explain how swapping one short term risk free instrument (reserves) for another short term risk free instrument (t-bills) leads to equity repricing. I don’t see it.

To the delight of Kashkari, who this year gets to vote and decide the future of US monetary policy yet is completely unaware of how the plumbing underneath US capital markets actually works, we did so for his benefit on Friday, although we certainly did not have to: after all, the “central banks’ central bank”, the Bank for International Settlements, did a far better job than we ever could in its December 8 report, “September stress in dollar repo markets: passing or structural?”, which explained not just why the September repo disaster took place on the supply side (i.e., the sudden, JPMorgan-mediated liquidity shortage at the “top 4” commercial banks which prevented them from lending into the repo market)…

… but also on the demand side, which as Claudo Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the BIS, explained was the result “high demand for secured (repo) funding from non-bank financial institutions, such as hedge funds heavily engaged in leveraging up relative value trades.

Incidentally, we harbor a slight suspicion that Kashkari, who also admitted to “finding amusement in needling critics calling them conspiracists or goldbugs” (which is a delightfully ironic statement for a person responsible for the biggest asset bubble in history, and one which we are confident in 1-2 years time he would love to retract), was being disingenuous and knows exactly how the Fed is impacting markets, because in what was perhaps the most important news last week which flew under the radar, the WSJ reported that the Fed was considering lending cash directly to – i.e., bailing out – hedge funds, or as we put it, “Fed officials are considering a new tool to ease repo market stress: namely bypassing the existing system entirely, and lending cash directly to smaller banks, securities dealers and hedge funds through the repo market’s clearinghouse, the Fixed Income Clearing Corp., or FICC.

And so we once again get to the real issue at hand, namely the bailout of those hedge funds which even the BIS said were on the verge of failure had the repo market not been unfrozen – and which the Fed was all too aware of – and had the massive leverage that some hedge funds operate under collapsed, forcing an unprecedented liquidation cascade….

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/944-trillion-reasons-why-fed-quietly-bailing-out-hedge-funds

“Over time, whoever controls the money system, controls the nation.”

The American Monetary Institute is a publicly supported charity founded in 1996.

The real outcomes in society – whether there will be general economic justice or corrupt financial privileges for the few – are usually determined by the structure of a society’s monetary system.

https://monetary.org/

130,000+ to protest gun control in Virginia

Second Amendment groups heading a planned protest and rally of potentially 130,000 supporters Monday in Richmond, Virginia, are warning members to be on the lookout for agitators “invited” by gun control advocates to stir up violence and discredit their effort.

In an alert sent by one of the groups leading the “lobbying day” effort, supporters were advised to look the other way should counterprotesters challenge them.

“If someone tries to provoke you, smile and walk away. There is probably someone secretly recording the interaction, with the intent of capturing some kind of inappropriate reaction on your part. Don’t take the bait. It’s not worth the bad press,” said the alert from the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has conducted annual lobby day events peacefully since 2002.

On Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam declared an emergency around the state capital for the Monday event, declaring that there “are considered credible threats” of violence, but he didn’t give details. As a result, guns are banned in the area, even by those who have legal concealed carry permits.

VCDL and others, however, said that they have heard of no threats, especially by gun owners, and suggested the governor was instigating leftist protesters. It is also eyeing a challenge to Northam’s temporary ban….

https://governmentslaves.news/2020/01/18/130000-to-protest-gun-control-in-virginia/

Antifa Group Plans To March Alongside Pro-Gun Protesters In Virginia

A diverse gathering of pro-gun protestors set to descend upon Virginia’s capital on Monday could include an unlikely ally, a local antifa group.

In what Vice called a “bizarre meeting of the minds,” Richmond-based Antifa Seven Hills also strongly opposes the gun measures now likely to become law since Democrats won control of both Virginia houses last year, and they too want Democratic leaders in Richmond to know.

“I think it’s been pretty important for us to focus on the fact that gun control in America has a legacy of racist enforcement,” an Antifa Seven Hills spokesperson called James, a self-identified anarchist who withheld his real name for fear of getting doxxed, told Vice. “Like taking guns away from black people, because black people were perceived as a threat to property and the sanctity of the state.”

“This is our fight as much as anyone else’s,” James continued. “It’s our state, and we are left largely out of the debate. The presence of an armed left is not discussed, it’s not understood.”

To the “armed left,” gun control represents the rise of a police state and the oppression of minorities made powerless by disarmament, but it’s a class issue as well….

https://governmentslaves.news/2020/01/18/antifa-group-plans-to-march-alongside-pro-gun-protesters-in-virginia/

VA State Senator Goes Public 72 Hours Before 2nd Amendment Rally: ‘We Are Being Set Up’

A Virginia state senator has sounded a warning bell three days before a massive rally is set to coalesce in the commonwealth’s capital.

Conservative Sen. Amanda Chase of District 11 took to Facebook on Friday with a warning for every patriot who plans to attend the pro-Second Amendment rally Monday in Richmond….

“The Governor, using the media has already set the stage for this to happen,” Chase wrote. “He has already laid the groundwork to make the entire movement look like insurrection.”

It’s not just militia members and those wearing camouflage who have reason to worry.

According to Chase, even some military veterans have been flagged as potential threats.

“They are kicking things into high gear,” Chase wrote. “Military veterans were/are even listed as potential domestic terrorist.”

“We were told not once, but several times by the current President, ‘It’s Not Me they are after, It’s You, The American People.’”

Northam indeed claims to have intelligence that some of the groups attending the Monday rally will be intent on insurrection.

However, this is the first time we have seen such a dire warning from a state official like Chase.

https://www.westernjournal.com/va-state-senator-goes-public-72-hours-rally-set/

CPS 101: What you need to know to protect your kids from state child trafficking

CPS is a business, with payoffs for each child kidnapped and each child adopted out.   But the payoff is even greater if the child is sold to an elite trafficking ring.    See the articles at the bottom:

https://www.familypreservationfoundation.org

Clinton-Era Law Has Distorted Child Protective Services, Parents Say

Parents blame legislation signed by Bill Clinton for the rash of Child Protective Services (CPS) corruption and abuse claims cropping up all over the country.

On Oct. 1, President Donald Trump’s Family First Prevention Services Act—which he passed by attaching it to a February 2018 spending bill—goes into effect. Trump’s law seeks to reverse some of the damage caused by the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), which President Clinton signed in 1997.

Critics say Clinton’s law created financial incentives to remove children from their homes and place them in foster care, thus sparking a lucrative government-run business of child removal.

The ASFA created a program in which the federal government cuts checks to states, courtesy of Social Security, for every child adopted out of foster care. The ASFA also requires the termination of most parents’ custodial rights after a child has spent 15 out of the past 22 months in foster care. Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton spearheaded the push to pass the ASFA through Congress.

“After the passage of that legislation, foster adoptions increased 64% nationwide from 31,030 the year the law passed to 51,000 last year,” Hillary Clinton wrote in the introduction to the 2006 edition of her book, “It Takes a Village.”…

De-Bunking the Myth of the Jewish Conspiracy and Focusing on the British Conspiracy

Recently, I’ve noticed a strong resurgence of a lazy tendency to blame all the world’s problems on “the Jews”. At least 20% of my published articles over the past year have resulted in readers condemning me for not saying that Jews are the causal hand running the world and here, I’d like very much to say something about this. I think this is especially important since a growing number of influential alt-media platforms such as Russia Insider have moved not only towards an absolutely anti-Jewish, but also a dangerously pro-Hitler narrative that I believe must be nipped in the bud and put into some rational perspective.

Just to state clearly off the bat, I am not a fan of the ADL, the Rothschild banking dynasty, the younger Warburg dynasty, Mossad-affiliated pedophiles or George Soros. I do not condone the B’nai Brith’s Freemasonic intrigues, nor do I approve of the “Greater Israel” logic of Jabotinzky-ite loving Zionists who tend to believe that the entire Middle East from Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran belongs rightfully to them.

I do however believe that there is something profoundly beautiful in the Jewish cultural matrix that stems from Platonic humanist thinkers as Rabbi Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C.-50 A.D.) to Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) to the great scholar Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) whose amazing contributions to human knowledge birthed Germany’s incredible renaissance movement of the 18-19th century. The rise of such modern Jewish artists who led the Yiddish Renaissance as I.L. Peretz, and Shalom Aleichem nourished their souls on such ecumenical inspiration at the turn of the 20th century. The rise of modern Zionism, as we shall see was designed explicitly to destroy this positive spiritual tradition within Judaism reducing it to a “blood and soil cult”.

While radical Zionists tend to be shaped by their elitist self-image as God’s “chosen people” (putting them dangerously close to Nietsche’s ubermenschen concept which inspired a young Hitler), Jewish humanists from Philo to Mendelssohn fought to define the Old Testament concept of “chosen people” as chosen to be first in morality, wisdom and love. With this mandate to love all our fellow creatures since we are made in the image of the creator, Mendelsohn explains in his powerful book Jerusalem (1782) “you can’t hesitate to regard love as being at least as sublime a pre-eminence as power, to credit the supreme being with being not only all-powerful but also all-good, and to recognize the God of might also as the God of love.” (1)

Within these Jewish texts, one finds the cure not only for the failures of Zionism, but all of ideological ills of our present Hobbesian age.

Trump’s Zionist Paradox

With this general framework established, I would like to deal with my principal theme in the form of a paradox.

Trump is the first American president in over 50 years who has posed a serious threat to the deep state, resulting in a three year effort by the highest echelons of the Anglo-American oligarchy to lead an evidence- free impeachment campaign. Even the British House of Lords has stated irrevocably that Trump’s re-election is an intolerable scenario for the empire. YET… Trump supports Zionists and Zionists by and large support Trump.

Some influential alternative media outlets have gone so far as to conclude that Obama was a far superior leader to Trump simply because such Jabotinskyites as Benjamin Netanyahu hated him for speaking out occasionally against Israeli offensives against Palestine and not supporting Israel’s claim to Jerusalem. Of course, Trump’s pro-Israeli policy has run counter to Obama on many points, but does that make him a Zionist shill deserving of impeachment as many of his detractors claim?

Well, if Israel truly was a causal agency in world affairs, one might say “yes”. However, from the 19th century creation of Zionism within the bowels of Britain’s Foreign Office by the Earl of Shaftesbury and the Palestinian Exploration Fund of 1865 to the Anglo-French Sykes Pikot Agreement of 1916, to the Lord Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the Round Table-steered Versailles Treaty that put Palestine under British control in 1919, Zionism was always a reactive agency of the British Empire and never causal as a top down process. Even the powerful B’nai Brith was created by British Freemasonic organizations in America hosting a Grand Master, degrees of initiation, and masonic symbolism from its 1875 founding to the present.

It isn’t just Zionism

British manipulation of radical ideologies across the Middle East doesn’t end with Zionism, but connects right to the heart of Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which were the fruits of British Imperial intrigues at the onset of the 20th century. Don’t believe me? Well would you be surprised to find out that the Muslim Brotherhood which has played such a major role in the rise of Islamic fundamentalism was created by British Freemasons? Because it was. Or would you be surprised to discover that Saudi Arabia is a nation not even ready to celebrate its 80th birthday whose very name merely derives from a family of warlords that Britain decided to place atop a new kingdom in 1930? Some of that story was even told in the 1963 film Laurence of Arabia… but only some of it. The rise of Islamic terrorism that such geopoliticians as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sir Henry Kissinger and Sir Bernard Lewis unleashed as a weapon against the Soviet Union was tied deeply into this British-created dynamic… and these Anglophile sociopaths knew it.

The fact that Israel hated such anti-nation state Wellsian technocrats as Barack Obama should not be a mystery, nor should their support of Trump’s pro-nationalist presidency be a mystery either. The total change in Turkey’s own Modus Operandi towards a pro-Russia/China program since Putin transformed the “rules of the regime-change game” in the Middle East in 2015 should also not be a mystery. Neither should the 17 Arab Nations which have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or Saudi Arabia’s tendency to move away from acting as a total stooge for the London-centered globalists.

All of these seemingly opposing power structures were promised certain managerial powers of major jurisdictions of the world after the collapse of the western neo-liberal order on the condition that they just acted according to certain commands, and did the dirty work of their masters. Drug money laundering? Black ops? Terrorist financing? Oil price manipulation? Covert assassination? Every dirty game necessary to undermine sovereign nation states was on the table in those turbulent post-WWII years and these British-controlled power structures were messy, loud, and effective.

Even in the “developed sector”, certain nefarious 20th century power structures were assigned to take private control of vast sectors of the economy including energy, agriculture, medicine, banking, communications, and pharmaceuticals. These networks interfaced closely with organized crime networks giving birth to such North American dirty operations as the Bronfman Family, Mayer Lansky and even such weird politicos as Roy Cohn who went onto endorse a young Donald Trump entering politics in the 1980s. Even though many of these western criminal syndicates were also heavily connected to Zionism, it would be wrong to conclude that the Jews are running the world. It just means that one layer of organized crime influenced lower levels of organized crime. Each layer being promised vast rewards as long as they willingly accepted the fact that when the system they parasitically fed upon collapsed, they would adapt to that depopulated order accordingly. British cut out (and Soros mirror image) Maurice Strong laid out this agenda in an infamous 1990 interview with West Magazine asking “hypothetically”:

“What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of the rich countries? And if the world is to survive, those rich countries would have to sign an agreement reducing their impact on the environment. Will they do it? The group’s conclusion is ‘no’. The rich countries won’t do it. They won’t change. So, in order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”…

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/12/26/de-bunking-myth-of-jewish-conspiracy/

The British Roots Of The Deep State: How The Round Table Infiltrated America

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire

The Geopolitics of Epistemological Warfare: From Babylon to Neocon

… Under the broad umbrella of “neo-conservative” one should properly differentiate those who really believe in their ideology and are trapped under the invisible cage of its unexamined assumptions vs. that smaller yet more important segment that created and manages the ideology from the top. I brushed on this grouping in a recent 3 part study called Origins of the Deep State and Myth of the Jewish Conspiracy.

To re-state my meaning: This group doesn’t necessarily believe in the ideological group they manage any more than a parent believes in that tooth fairy which they promote in order to achieve certain behavioral patterns in their children.

While belief in the tooth fairy is slightly less destructive than belief in a misanthropic neocon worldview of a Bolton, Pompeo or Cheney, the analogy is useful to communicate the point.

Cult Managers: Ancient Babylon and Now

Modern ideology-shapers serve the same role as those ancient high priests of Babylon, Persia and Rome who managed the many cults and countless pagan mystery religions recorded throughout the ages. It is well documented that any cult could comfortably exist under Rome’s control, as long as said cult denied any claim to objective truthfulness- making the rise of Abrahamic monotheistic faiths more than a little antagonistic to empire.

Did the high priests necessarily BELIEVE in those dogmas which they created and managed?

Hell no.

Was it politically necessary to create them?

Of course. …

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/18/the-geopolitics-of-epistemological-warfare-from-babylon-to-neocon/

Anthony Sutton: Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler and Communism

Battle of the Ages to stop Eurasian integration

Coming decade could see the US take on Russia, China and Iran over the New Silk Road connection

The Raging Twenties started with a bang with the targeted assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.

Yet a bigger bang awaits us throughout the decade: the myriad declinations of the New Great Game in Eurasia, which pits the US against Russia, China and Iran, the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

Every game-changing act in geopolitics and geoeconomics in the coming decade will have to be analyzed in connection to this epic clash.

The Deep State and crucial sectors of the US ruling class are absolutely terrified that China is already outpacing the “indispensable nation” economically and that Russia has outpaced it militarily. The Pentagon officially designates the three Eurasian nodes as “threats.”

Hybrid War techniques – carrying inbuilt 24/7 demonization – will proliferate with the aim of containing China’s “threat,” Russian “aggression” and Iran’s “sponsorship of terrorism.” The myth of the “free market” will continue to drown under the imposition of a barrage of illegal sanctions, euphemistically defined as new trade “rules.”

Yet that will be hardly enough to derail the Russia-China strategic partnership. To unlock the deeper meaning of this partnership, we need to understand that Beijing defines it as rolling towards a “new era.” That implies strategic long-term planning – with the key date being 2049, the centennial of New China.

The horizon for the multiple projects of the Belt and Road Initiative – as in the China-driven New Silk Roads – is indeed the 2040s, when Beijing expects to have fully woven a new, multipolar paradigm of sovereign nations/partners across Eurasia and beyond, all connected by an interlocking maze of belts and roads.

The Russian project – Greater Eurasia – somewhat mirrors Belt & Road and will be integrated with it. Belt & Road, the Eurasia Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank are all converging towards the same vision.

Realpolitik

So this “new era”, as defined by the Chinese, relies heavily on close Russia-China coordination, in every sector. Made in China 2025 is encompassing a series of techno/scientific breakthroughs. At the same time, Russia has established itself as an unparalleled technological resource for weapons and systems that the Chinese still cannot match.

At the latest BRICS summit in Brasilia, President Xi Jinping told Vladimir Putin that “the current international situation with rising instability and uncertainty urge China and Russia to establish closer strategic coordination.” Putin’s response: “Under the current situation, the two sides should continue to maintain close strategic communication.”

Russia is showing China how the West respects realpolitik power in any form, and Beijing is finally starting to use theirs. The result is that after five centuries of Western domination – which, incidentally, led to the decline of the Ancient Silk Roads – the Heartland is back, with a bang, asserting its preeminence.

On a personal note, my travels these past two years, from West Asia to Central Asia, and my conversations these past two months with analysts in Nur-Sultan, Moscow and Italy, have allowed me to get deeper into the intricacies of what sharp minds define as the Double Helix. We are all aware of the immense challenges ahead – while barely managing to track the stunning re-emergence of the Heartland in real-time.

In soft power terms, the sterling role of Russian diplomacy will become even more paramount – backed up by a Ministry of Defense led by Sergei Shoigu, a Tuvan from Siberia, and an intel arm that is capable of constructive dialogue with everybody: India/Pakistan, North/South Korea, Iran/Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan.

This apparatus does smooth (complex) geopolitical issues over in a manner that still eludes Beijing.

In parallel, virtually the whole Asia-Pacific – from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean – now takes into full consideration Russia-China as a counter-force to US naval and financial overreach.

Stakes in Southwest Asia

The targeted assassination of Soleimani, for all its long-term fallout, is just one move in the Southwest Asia chessboard. What’s ultimately at stake is a macro geoeconomic prize: a land bridge from the Persian Gulf to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Last summer, an Iran-Iraq-Syria trilateral established that “the goal of negotiations is to activate the Iranian-Iraqi-Syria load and transport corridor as part of a wider plan for reviving the Silk Road.”

There could not be a more strategic connectivity corridor, capable of simultaneously interlinking with the International North-South Transportation Corridor; the Iran-Central Asia-China connection all the way to the Pacific; and projecting Latakia towards the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

What’s on the horizon is, in fact, a sub-sect of Belt & Road in Southwest Asia. Iran is a key node of Belt & Road; China will be heavily involved in the rebuilding of Syria; and Beijing-Baghdad signed multiple deals and set up an Iraqi-Chinese Reconstruction Fund (income from 300,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for Chinese credit for Chinese companies rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure).

A quick look at the map reveals the “secret” of the US refusing to pack up and leave Iraq, as demanded by the Iraqi Parliament and Prime Minister: to prevent the emergence of this corridor by any means necessary. Especially when we see that all the roads that China is building across Central Asia – I navigated many of them in November and December – ultimately link China with Iran.

The final objective: to unite Shanghai to the Eastern Mediterranean – overland, across the Heartland….

http://thesaker.is/battle-of-the-ages-to-stop-eurasian-integration/

For the United States, Eurasian geostrategy involves the purposeful management of geostrategically dynamic states and the careful handling of geopolitically catalytic states, in keeping with the twin interests of America in the short-term preservation of its unique global power and in the long-run transformation of it into increasingly institutionalized global cooperation. To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.

— Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard

Genital microbial communities influence animal sex and reproduction

It is an awkward idea, but a couple’s ability to have kids may partly depend on who else is present. The reproductive tracts of males and females contain whole communities of micro-organisms. These microbes can have considerable impact on (animal) fertility and reproduction, as shown by Melissah Rowe, from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), and co-authors this week with an extensive overview in Trends in Ecology & Evolution. It may even lead to new species.

It appears to be such an intimate moment, with only the two of you… But you are not actually alone. In our reproductive tracts and in, on, and surrounding egg and sperm cells, lives a whole community of micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and viruses. These microbiomes may influence our sexual health and fertility far more than we thought, sometimes in good ways and sometimes in bad ways. And this isn’t just true for humans, but for all animals and even plants.

“We’ve all heard about the skin or gut microbiome and how these can affect our lives,” explains evolutionary ecologist Melissah Rowe. “Well, guess what, there’s more! We have a reproductive microbiome as well.”

Conflicting interests

This is not just about sexually transmittable diseases. “Microbes appear to influence fertility, reproduction, and the evolution of animal species in so many ways,” says Rowe. Sperm quality, mate choice, sexual health, success at producing offspring, the balance between female and male mating interests, general health, and even the origin of new species. “And yet, almost nobody is studying this, especially in non-human animals.”

The ecology and evolution of reproductive biology and behaviour in animals, especially birds, is Rowe’s field of research. Recently, she has started as a scientist in the Department of Animal Ecology with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. She is interested in the impact of the reproductive microbiome. Together with colleagues from the University of Oslo (Norway), Oxford and Exeter (United Kingdom), Rowe composed an overview of all available scientific data.

Bacteria as jury

A couple of examples. Men with large amounts of certain bacteria in their semen are more likely to be infertile. Female bedbugs ramp up their immunological defences ahead of mating, as males will pierce their abdomen with their genitalia during mating. The resulting infections from bacteria transmitted via the genitalia can be fatal. In mallard ducks, males with a more colourful bill produce semen that is better able to kill bacteria, thereby possibly influencing the females’ partner choice for a ‘safe’ male….

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200117104744.htm

Transparency in all things