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Odds are, there's a virus living inside your gut that has gone undetected by scientists for decades. A new study has found that more than half the world's population is host to a newly described virus, named crAssphage, which infects one of the most common gut bacterial species, Bacteroides. This bacterium thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases.
He and his team named the virus crAssphage, after the cross-assembly software program used to discover it. Some of the proteins in crAssphage's DNA are similar to those found in other well-described viruses. That allowed Edwards' team to determine that their novel virus is one known as a bacteriophage, which infects and replicates inside bacteria -- and using innovative bioinformatic techniques, they predicted that this particular bacteriophage proliferates by infecting a common phylum of gut bacteria known as Bacteriodetes. Gut punch Bacteriodetes bacteria live toward the end of the intestinal tract, and they are suspected to play a major role in the link between gut bacteria and obesity. What role crAssphage plays in this process will be a target of future research.