Did you know that humans contain ten times more bacterial cells than human? That’s what Dr. Bruce Birren claims, who is one of the hundreds of US scientists involved in the world’s most extensive map of the microbes that live in and on us.
The Human Microbiome Project has catalogued the genetic identity of many bacteria, viruses and other organisms that live in intimate contact with us.
They are not germs that need eliminating but a fundamental part of what makes us human, researchers say.
For centuries we could only investigate microbes that can survive in laboratories and study them in isolation – often one microbe at a time.
But with the advent of ever-improving techniques to sequence DNA, the Human Microbiome Project has been able to uncover microbes that have never been seen before and look at how they behave as communities.
Many of the results of the five-year project, launched by the National Institutes of Health, have been published in Nature, Genome Biology and PLoS journals.
Over 200 healthy men and women from the US had microbe samples taken from various parts of their bodies.
And researchers were able to find over 10,000 different types of organisms as part of the healthy human microbiome.
Most of these microbes appeared to do no harm at all. In fact, there is growing evidence that these bugs help us in many ways.
Some help us get energy from food and others help us absorb nutrients such as vitamins.
(Text from BBC news website).
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