How the Environment Affects the Microorganisms of Our Skin

Background

Microorganisms are present all around us, but our interaction does not stop at that. There are millions of these microscopic creatures living in and on our bodies. While this may seem alarming at first, most of these microbes cause no harm, and in many cases play an important role in our health. Studies have shown that our microbiota, which are microscopic organisms that live in our bodies, have a wide range of functions from supporting our immune system (Mazmanian et al., 2008), to helping us stay free of infection (Fredricks et al., 2005). Scientists are trying to distinguish the range of what a healthy human microbial composition is. By establishing this range, the hope is to use the microbiome to detect and treat a variety of diseases (Rosenthal et al., 2011). Continue reading “How the Environment Affects the Microorganisms of Our Skin”

The Selflessness of Bacteria is Making Our Drugs Less Effective

Background

In the 1940s Sir Alexander Fleming released the antibiotic Penicillin to the public transforming modern medicine forever. The emergence of antibiotics has had a profound impact on our lives, helping to increase our average life span from 56 to nearly 80 years (Ventola 2015). Antibiotics are an effective tool in fighting infection and have greatly reduced surgical complications. However, the flurry of excitement around these wonder drugs quickly went away. It was realized that the very microbes these drugs were supposed to be fighting were actually making them stronger and eventually became resistant to them. Continue reading “The Selflessness of Bacteria is Making Our Drugs Less Effective”

What Did I Eat? Or How Did the Critters in Your Food End Up in Your Gut

Background

They always say that you are what you eat. In recent years, there have been an increasing amount of  studies looking at the various microbes that live in and on you, and how your habits impact them. These large number of microbes are what comprises your microbiome. Understanding how they are impacted by lifestyle is becoming a well studied area of microbiology. Previous studies in this field have shown that certain types of these microbiota can have positive or negative effects on the overall function of an  organism (Human Microbiome Project Phase II). Certain types of microbes have shown to be associated with various diseases of the gut. Many of these microbes have the ability to cause major health concerns among the human population, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, obesity, and autoimmune disease (Pittayanon et al., 2019 and Marietta et al., 2019). 

Being able to characterize our differences based on diet can begin to help us be able to get our microbiomes to a “healthy” state, (what is relatively healthy for the individual, not necessarily an overlapping term for everyone). This will also help with these diseases so they don’t plague the population in such high amounts as they do now. We can potentially do this through looking at the nutrient content within our chosen diets and how that diet relates to the number of microbiota and subsequently how those microbiota impact the body. That’s exactly what the authors of a recent study did (Losasso et al., 2018). Continue reading “What Did I Eat? Or How Did the Critters in Your Food End Up in Your Gut”