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The vital ecosystem of bacteria in the human gut operates like a jungle, with competition between microbes helping maintain the stability necessary to keep us healthy.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

That's according to scientists at Oxford University, who have used mathematical modelling to work out how hundreds of bacteria species are able to co-exist successfully.

In their report, the researchers show that – contrary to popular assumption – cooperation between species has the effect of destabilizing the system. Instead, a competitive environment between 'good bacteria' helps to maintain stability by counteracting the destabilizing effect of high species diversity.

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