Blame the germs, not the genes

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Eye colour, hair colour, height and weight -- the list of traits passed down from one generation to the next is long. It's almost an old saw: Half our genes come from mom, half from dad. Before we even knew what genes were, we understood the basic principle of heredity. Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., say the old arithmetic no longer adds up. Turns out our pot bellies or propensity to fly off the handle may have nothing to do with our parents' genes and instead everything to do with maternal bacteria. Yep, germs. The DNA of microbes carried by the mother during pregnancy can be passed on to offspring, according to mouse studies published online this week in the journal Nature.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/02/2015 (2781 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Eye colour, hair colour, height and weight — the list of traits passed down from one generation to the next is long. It’s almost an old saw: Half our genes come from mom, half from dad. Before we even knew what genes were, we understood the basic principle of heredity. Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., say the old arithmetic no longer adds up. Turns out our pot bellies or propensity to fly off the handle may have nothing to do with our parents’ genes and instead everything to do with maternal bacteria. Yep, germs. The DNA of microbes carried by the mother during pregnancy can be passed on to offspring, according to mouse studies published online this week in the journal Nature.

— The Washington Post

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