Review and Critique of "Gut Bacteria from Wild Mice Boost Health in Lab Mice"

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This paper reviews and criticizes “Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice” by Rosshart et al. published on October 19, 2017, pulled from Science News. The hypothesis of the article states that "laboratory mice, while paramount for understanding basic biological phenomena are limited in their predictive utility for modelling complex infections of people and other free-living mammals." This research is from the observation that experiments in lab mice have different results than in humans or other animals. However, several mistakes can mislead in the article may confuse the reader because they did not follow a through the scientific method.

The full procedure of the scientific method is first to make an observation, ask a question then to form a hypothesis followed by experimenting and finalised by analysing the result and reporting them. In the basic format, this is developed. However, some instances never match with the original intentions or the whole complete process. The first issue is that the reported results don't tie in with the initial observation or hypothesis. In this article, the results were that more wild mice were able to survive the flu virus then the lab mice (Hugenholtz & de Vos, 2018). However, there is no correlating data to support that the boosted immune systems from the lab/wild hybrid mice have provided closer results to humans or other animals. To me, that signifies a miss-step in the experiment process. There was arguably more that needed to be done for the research to be complete. The fact that a second test group set aside to show closer or broader resulting gap from a lab mouse control group from the secondary animal and old process, and the new method with a secondary group to exhibit the needed results.

 Moreover, there is erroneous data that is not thoroughly explained or tested. When analysing the results, it states that the wild microbes mice were overall healthier and had a better outcome with other diseases than just the flu virus. It shows that another test was run with while promising results but no clear reasoning for performing these tests (Pascoe, Hauffe, Marchesi & Perkins, 2017). This portrays the previous mice have a better immunity system then lab-bred mice, it does not tie into the fact that as it shows no bearing on closing the gap between mice and other species results with the same diseases. 

 The third issue is the results of this experiment do not defend the original concept. In the effects that the mice to perform better and can respond better to more complex infections. This fails to support the idea "laboratory mice, while paramount for understanding basic biological phenomena are limited in their predictive utility for modelling complex diseases of humans and other free-living mammals." The reason to state that it doesn't support the original thought is that laboratory mice are not limited. The idea is that at the end of the experiment you have a new laboratory mouse after several generations that have the same microbes from the wild mice and in essence a new laboratory mouse (Hugenholtz & de Vos, 2018). You can contrast from a technology standpoint.  However, if you use a new component such as a new chip or new video card you can expect more precise or better results. As long as you keep updating your system, in this case, the mice, you have a better process. However, even with a better method, you may not get the same results as you are intending. Again, going to the technology reference, if I install a faster internet connection, while this improves the computer it does not help with showing a better, clearer picture on the monitor. You could argue it's a step in the right direction. What I could say as a positive is they replaced the video card to give a better picture. However, until they upgrade the monitor, they won't know the full result of the film.

 In this paper, the critique of “Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice” by Rosshart et al. published on October 19, 2017, pulled from Science News. Looking at the scientific method specifically at the experiment and results to show how this lacked a good correlation of data between the steps. I also provided steps that could be taken to mediate or fix this issue.  


Hugenholtz, F., & de Vos, W. M. (2018). Mouse models for human intestinal microbiota research: a critical evaluation. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 75(1), 149-160.

Pascoe, E. L., Hauffe, H. C., Marchesi, J. R., & Perkins, S. E. (2017). Network analysis of gut microbiota literature: an overview of the research landscape in non-human animal studies. The ISME Journal, 11(12), 2644.

August 09, 2023



Scientific Method

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