Bacterial Gene Swaps and the Human Microbiome

A recent study done by scientist Ilana Brito highlights exactly how many complex factors go into human health and wellness—particularly as it relates to bacteria and the microbiomes living in and on humans.

This study was conducted using a combination of samples from Fijian village people and North American subjects. Bits of genetic material from microbes were taken from cheeks, spit samples, and fecal matter, and analyzed to identify exactly which genes were present, and which were active.

The results showed some surprising facts about the human microbiome, which has been proven to regulate a number of metabolic functions including digestion, as well as assist in immune system functions and overall health. One of these was the degree to which both diet and method of consuming food affects a person’s microbiome. For example, Fijians demonstrated on average a much higher level of starch-digesting microorganisms than the typical North American, as a result of their diet. Additionally, the lack of standardized sanitation, including increased personal contact and sharing of meals, may be the cause of a Fijian microbiome that is, on the whole, more diverse than that of North Americans.

Another interesting fact to note is that genes can often be swapped between bacteria and even entire microbiomes and also between species. The information that has been gleaned from this study may, as researcher Brito hopes, help make advancements in a number of realms of microbial study, including how hardy bacteria become resistant to even the strongest antibiotics. This could even help shed light on more complicated subjects such as allergies and asthma, problems that have been linked in other studies to the human microbiome and its interactions with the immune system.

This is just one of many fascinating studies being conducted on the human microbiome right now. For more information about related studies, check out CosmosID today!