By some measures, even we are more microbe than mammal. The trillions of microorganisms we harbor in our bodies, collectively known as our microbiome, outnumber human cells 10-to-1. Altogether, they weigh up to twice as much as the human brain, existing as a sort of sixth human superorgan whose function is linked to digesting our meals, preventing infection, and possibly even influencing our emotions and moods. Studies that describe new and essential roles for our microbiome are published almost daily. The reason for its breath-taking range is simple: Our germs have evolved with us.
Want a healthy gut? Reach for the kimchi, sauerkraut, artichokes, coffee and chocolate. But watch out – one category of food will make your microbes wither
We’ve spent centuries trying to kill bacteria. Now, scientists have shown that subtler approaches can work—at least in mice.
Scientists are continuing to learn what the microbiome does for our health, and how certain diseases and disorders are associated with changes in your microbes.
Months of exuberant hand-sanitizing and social isolation during the pandemic have changed our exposure to microbes, in ways good and bad.
Scientists estimated the mass of all life. It’s mind boggling.
A veritable jungle of organisms is helping keep each of us alive. But we've been rather negligent hosts. For starters, we don't even know who has shown up for the party.
Inside or outside of your body, you need them.
You may have heard of microscopic organisms, or microbes — we use them to make beer, spirits and bread. But we can also use them to create biofuels such as ethanol.
They typically need sugar as an input, which competes with human food consumption. However, there are other microbes called “acetogens” which can use carbon dioxide as their input to make several chemicals including ethanol.
Acetogens are thought to be one of the first life-forms on Earth. The ancient Earth’s atmosphere was very different to the atmosphere today — there was no oxygen, yet plentiful carbon dioxide..
The microbial community in the ground is as important as the one in our guts.
When bacteria were first discovered more than three centuries ago, most attention was on the ones we fought, which caused diseases like cholera, typhoid and tuberculosis. Through vaccines and antibiotics, we have made amazing progress in conquering these scourges. Now, through the combined tools of DNA sequencing and computer-based analysis, we have a first approximation of the innumerable other bacteria with which we cooperate daily.
Microbes are living, single-celled creatures surrounded by a membrane. They consume and convert nutrients into biological molecules or energy and are too small to be seen without a microscope.
We are constantly surrounded by a vast jungle of tiny creatures we can't see. Self-described "microbe wrangler" Anne Madden explains the power these microscopic organisms have to help humans.
Microscopic creatures—including bacteria, fungi and viruses—can make you ill. But what you may not realize is that trillions of microbes are living in and on your body right now. Most don’t harm you at all. In fact, they help you digest food, protect against infection and even maintain your reproductive health. We tend to focus on destroying bad microbes. But taking care of good ones may be even more important.
We live in fear of the bacteria that inhabit our homes and buildings. But our health may depend on preserving theirs.
The purpose of this blog is to share our appreciation for the width and depth of the microbial activities on this planet. Our emphasis is on the unusual and the unexpected phenomena for which we have a special fascination.