Friday, November 06, 2009

Our overflowing orifices...

we're not as human as we thinkNot only one's orifices, everything; although many strongly prefer the oily sites that our orifices provide. I'm on about our bacterial populations (hopefully you realised!). We're covered in trillions of different microbes, diverse populations; the University of Colorado at Boulder has developed the first 'atlas of bacterial diversity across the human body'; interestingly this diversity "Shows Wide Interpersonal Differences" [Link]

We know from a previous skin map that armpits "Are 'Rain Forests' for Bacteria" [NGN] so I guess it's logical that each human "continent" would have diverse populations albeit with some similarities. Or, as Julia Segre (National Human Genome Research Institute) said about the skin map, "The bacteria in my underarm are more similar to those in your underarm than they are to those on my forearm". Nice. And don't forget either that we are not as human as we think: for every hundred cells in your body, 99 are bacteria.

The new 'atlas' work - according to the lead researcher Dr Rob Knight - is "the most complete view we have yet of the microbial side of ourselves, one that our group and others will be adding to over the coming years...

...The goal is to find out what is normal for a healthy person, which will provide a baseline for further studies to look at people with diseased states."

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3 comments:

Paul said...

I'd like somebody to find a truly healthy person, there's always some illness or other hidden below the surface. As the saying goes 'you don't know you are ill until you go to the doctors.'

Do you remember the biology teacher telling you that the ring of scum in the bath was your dead cells - a good reason for showering.

Span Ows said...

Nothing as true as your first paragraph!

Re scum around the bath I'm sure a good part of that is soap too! But what about household dust?...NOW you're talking!

The other worrying thing is how many good bugs are really bad bugs as soon as their population gets big enough...and we thought humans were the only ones!

Paul said...

"The other worrying thing is how many good bugs are really bad bugs as soon as their population gets big enough...and we thought humans were the only ones!"

That's a great point for a Friday night. I bet there's some mad scientist in North Korea working on that as we speak.