“I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a laboratory located at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As part of a new citizen-science initiative called the American Gut project, the lab sequenced my microbiome — that is, the genes not of “me,” exactly, but of the several hundred microbial species with whom I share this body. These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found, a pound or two of microbes together forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map. Continue reading
Tag Archives: bacteria
“The gaggle of reporters waiting inside Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday, November 4, 2011, no doubt expected a feeble, exhausted radical when dairy farmer Michael Schmidt emerged. It was the 37th day of the hunger strike he started after being convicted of endangering public health by the Court of Appeal for Ontario; he claimed to have lost 50 pounds. But the reporters encountered someone alert, emphatic and entirely undeterred. Continue reading
One of the arguments for raw milk is that bacteria are not all bad, as some germ theorists might seem to imply. It’s about time science took note of the role of beneficial bacteria in maintaining and enhancing bodily health.
“For a century, doctors have waged war against bacteria, using antibiotics as their weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home — collectively known as the microbiome.
“I would like to lose the language of warfare,” said Julie Segre, a senior investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute. “It does a disservice to all the bacteria that have co-evolved with us and are maintaining the health of our bodies.”
This new approach to health is known as medical ecology. Rather than conducting indiscriminate slaughter, Dr. Segre and like-minded scientists want to be microbial wildlife managers. Continue reading
“Would you be upset to know that you’re coated in bacteria and other microorganisms from head to foot? According to the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), the average adult human’s genome is quite small compared to the “metagenome,” which consists of all of the different organisms both on and inside us….” Continue reading
“A GOOD way to make yourself unpopular at dinner parties is to point out that a typical person is, from a microbiologist’s perspective, a walking, talking Petri dish. An extraordinary profusion of microscopic critters inhabit every crack and crevice of the typical human, so many that they probably outnumber the cells of the body upon and within which they dwell.
Happily, these microbes are mostly harmless. Some of them, particularly those that live in the gut, are positively beneficial, helping with digestion and keeping the intestines in good working order. That is no surprise—bacteria as much as people have an interest in keeping their homes in sound condition. What is surprising is the small but growing body of evidence which suggests that bacteria dwelling in the gut can affect the brain, too, and thereby influence an individual’s mood and behaviour. The most recent paper on the topic, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports (like much of the research in this field) on results in mice. Continue reading
“Disturbing new research indicates that the microbial biodiversity of the soil and our food is being dramatically impacted by the use of herbicides like glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Researchers have proposed that many soil organisms, which are indispensable for the productivity of the soil in agriculture, as well as in raw and fermented dairy production, may be undergoing endangerment, if not also in some cases extinction in certain geographic regions of the world.
Research published in the journal Current Microbiology indicates that Roundup herbicide (®) is having a negative impact on microorganisms of food interest, and specifically those found in raw and fermented foods. They study authors concluded that Roundup herbicide’s inherent toxicity to soil organisms may explain what is behind “…the loss of microbiodiversity and microbial concentration observed in raw milk for many years.” Continue reading
“The mammalian gut is home to hundreds of bacterial species that contribute to food digestion and, in some cases, inflammatory gut diseases. Probiotics, beneficial bacterial species, can enhance gut health by keeping the resident bacteria in check. Now, a team of researchers at the RIKEN Innovation Center in Wako, including Mitsuharu Matsumoto, report that administration of the probiotic bacterial strain Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis LKM512 to mice can lengthen their lifespan.
Matsumoto and colleagues previously showed that LKM512 could reduce inflammatory markers in elderly humans and modify the makeup of intestinal bacteria2, but the effects of it on lifespan still required investigation. After starting 10-month-old mice on a diet including LKM512 for 11 months, the researchers found that LKM512-treated mice lived longer, had fewer skin lesions, and had better hair quality than untreated mice. Continue reading