MicrobeWorld explores the world of microbes with vivid images and descriptions. Learn about microbiology, what microbiologists do, how they do it, and current topics in the news.
Tagged with “microbes” (6)
Maybe you thought your body was a noble castle poised against the onslaughts and invasions of the world. Well, think again. It turns out, we are the world. Our bodies are loaded with a jungle of microbial life, inside and out, that is essential to healthy life.
New science has found ten times as many bacteria cells as human cells in and on the human body. A load of microbes that work with us from the moment of birth in all kinds of key ways. Killing them off, avoiding them, may make us sick. Make us fat.
This hour, On Point: Microbes are us. The amazing full ecology of the human body.
This week: entrepreneurship in the developing world [00:47], microbes and the immune system [10:52], and robots that fly [20:51]; plus, a few stories from our online daily news site [30:28].
IDEAS THAT ACCELERATE: SCIENCE MULTIPLIERS
The Dark Matter of Biology
Jonathan Eisen, Professor, University of California Davis
Compass Summit, a forum for true interaction and exchange, examines some of today’s most pressing problems through the lens of global citizenship, recognizing that human ingenuity is an unlimited resource. Guided by NPR’s Ira Flatow, an intimate group of some of the world’s best thinkers and doers convened along the rugged Palos Verdes coastline on Oct 23-26, 2011 at Terranea Resort to engage in meaningful conversation, ask questions, and challenge ideas — we invite you to join in the conversation.
Jonathan Eisen is a Professor at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on the evolution of new functions and the genomic diversity of microbes and microbial communities. Eisen is also a vocal advocate for “open science”, the Academic Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Biology, an active and award-winning blogger (e.g., http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com), and a scientific prankster.
New predictions of huge natural gas bonanza under the warming Arctic. The glowing GM monkeys that may transform medical research on brain diseases. Experience weightlessness through reporter Martin Redfern. A personal view on Nasa’s new boss, and the wonderful worlds of microbes occupying your skin.
To really read DNA accurately and understand it thoroughly, you need to be able to write it from scratch and make it live, Venter explained.
His sequencing the first diploid human genome (with the genes from both parents) last year showed there is much more genetic variation between humans than first thought. His current goal is to fully sequence 10,000 humans and bring the price for each sequence down to $1,000. With that data, his says, “We’ll begin to really learn what’s nature and what’s nurture.”
“Microbes make up one half of the Earth’s biomass.” Venter’s shotgun sequencing of open-ocean microbial samples revealed that every milliliter of ocean has one million bacteria and archaea and ten million viruses even in supposedly barren waters. Taking samples on a round-the-world sailing trip showed that every 200 miles the genes in the microbes are 85% different.
“Microbes dominate evolutionary diversity,” Venter said. Some 50,000 major gene familes have been discovered. Humans and other complex animals have a small fraction of that in our own genes, but the “microbiome” of our onboard microbes carry the full richness. Only 1/10th of the cells in a human are human; the rest are microbes. There are 1,000 species in our mouths, another 1,000 in our guts, another 500 on our skins, and those with vaginas have yet another 500 species.