Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

National Survey Shows Different Bacteria on Cellphones and Shoes

From the June 9, 2020 article at UC Davis

Microbes Mostly Harmless, Include Groups Barely Known to Science

“They found that shoes and cellphones from the same person consistently had distinct communities of microbes. Cellphone microbes reflected those found on people, while shoes carried microbes characteristic of soil. This is consistent with earlier results.

The shoe microbes were also more diverse than those found on a person’s phone.”…

…”Surprisingly, a substantial proportion of the bacteria came from groups that researchers call “microbial dark matter.” These microbes are difficult to grow and study in a lab setting and thus have been compared to invisible “dark matter” that astronomers think makes up much of the universe.

Since they are so difficult to grow in a lab, these dark matter groups have only been discovered as scientists have used genetic sequencing technology to look for microbes in the world around us. Although many of the dark microbial groups come from remote or extreme environments, such as boiling acid springs and nutrient-poor underground aquifers, some have been found in more mundane habitats, such as soil.

“Perhaps we were naïve, but we did not expect to see such a high relative abundance of bacteria from these microbial dark matter groups on these samples,” Eisen said. 

A number of these dark microbe groups were found in more than 10 percent of samples, with two groups, Armatimonadetes and Patescibacteria, being found in almost 50 percent of swabs and somewhat more frequently in those from shoes than those from phones. Armatimonadetes is known to be widespread in soil.  

“A remarkable fraction of people are traveling around with representatives from these uncultured groups on commonplace objects,” Coil said.”

August 13, 2020 Posted by | biology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harmful Bacteria Live In Healthy Bodies Without Causing Disease

Depiction of the human body and bacteria that ...

Depiction of the human body and bacteria that predominate     Larger Image at http://www.genome.gov/Images/press_photos/highres/20169-300.jpg(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Somehow I always felt this to be true…

Many scientists now regard human bodies as “supra-organisms”, collections of communities made up of human and microbial cells coexisting in a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

From the 14 June 2012 Medical News Today article

Scientists working on a huge project that has mapped all the different microbes that live in and on a healthy human body have made a number of remarkable discoveries, including the fact that harmful bacteria can live in healthy bodies and co-exist with their host and other microbes without causing disease.

This week sees the publication of several papers from the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), including two in Nature and two inPLoS ONE.

The Microbiome

The microbiome is the sum of all the microbes that colonize the body: it comprises trillions of microorganisms that outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. The microbes inhabit every nook and cranny of the body, and most of     the time the relationship is a friendly one, because they help digest food, strengthen the immune system and fight off dangerous pathogens.

Colorado University (CU)-Boulder Associate Professor Rob Knight of the BioFrontiers Institute is co-author on the two Nature papers. He told the press that the microbiome may only make up 1 to 3% of human body mass, but it plays a key role in human health.

One of the fascinating features of the microbiome is that different body sites have different communites of microorganisms that are as different from each other as the differences between microbial communities in oceans and deserts.

Knight said:

“By better understanding this microbial variation we can begin searching for genetic biomarkers for disease.”

Another of the curious features the HMP has discovered is that even healthy people carry low levels of harmful bacteria, but as long as the body remains healthy, they don’t cause disease, they just coexist alongside beneficial microbes. …

The HMP researchers established that more than 10,000 microbial species inhabit the human “ecosystem”. Knight said they believe they have now found between 81 and 99% of all genera of microorganisms in healthy adult Americans.

One of the key findings was the stark differences in microbial communities across the human body. For instance, the microbial communities that live on the teeth are different from those in saliva. …

…Another interesting discovery is that of the genes that influence human metabolism, most of them are in the microbiome and not in the human genome

…gut bacteria do more than break down food and its constituents like proteins, fats and carbohydrates, they also produce beneficial compounds like vitamins and anti-inflammatories.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists explore the intersection of health, society and microbial ecology

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 12 August Eureka Alert

(Ecological Society of America) Public awareness about the role and interaction of microbes is essential for promoting human and environmental health, say scientists presenting research at the Ecological Society of America’s 96th Annual Meeting from August 7-12, 2011.

ESA’s 96th Annual Meeting will be held August 7-12, 2011 in Austin, Texas. The meeting, which has the theme “Earth Stewardship: Preserving and enhancing the earth’s life-support systems,” draws a critical combination of more than 3,500 scientists, policy makers and concerned citizens to discuss research on Earth’s complex interactions and to explore strategies for enhancing a community-based approach to global responsibility….

Presentations on microbial ecology include:

“The food-webs inside the human body” led by Carmen Lia Murall, University of Guelph, Canada; “Human oral microbiota as an example of microbiota diversity associated with tissue characteristics” by Jacques Izard, The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, MA; “The impact of architectural design on the microbial diversity of built environments” led by Brendan Bohannan, University of Oregon; and “A microbial perspective on air quality: How human activities influence bacterial diversity in the atmosphere” by Noah Fierer, University of Colorado, Boulder….

Other presentations on disease ecology include:

“Statistical prediction of West Nile Virus transmission intensity in New York City” led by Sarah Bowden, University of Georgia; “The dual role of lizards in Lyme disease ecology in the far-western United States” led by Andrea Swei, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; “The role of synanthropic mammals in avian influenza outbreaks” led by Susan Shriner, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; “The influence of host movement on epidemic dynamics: Commuting patterns in cities and their consequences for the spread of influenza” led by Benjamin Dalziel, Cornell University; and “The ecology of an emerging tick-borne pathogen, Babesia microti: How host quality affects disease risk” led by Michelle Hersh, Bard College….

….The Preliminary Press Program is available online at http://esa.org/austin/press.php, and the full searchable program is at http://eco.confex.com/eco/2011/webprogram/start.html. All abstracts are embargoed until 12:00 am EDT the day of their presentation. Contact Katie Kline at katie@esa.org for details or to register as a member of the press. Field trips are open to all meeting registrants; however, the fees are not included in press registration.

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four print journals—and one online-only, open-access journal Ecosphere—and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org or find experts in ecological science at http://www.esa.org/pao/rrt.

Read the entire Eureka Alert

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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