Scientists have for decades recognized that the human body is more microbe than human. Large and diverse communities of bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic life inhabit not just our intestines, but our mouths, our skin, and our genitals. Even places once thought to be sterile, such as the eyes and lungs, are now known to host microbial life.
Using metagenomic sequencing approaches, researchers have thoroughly documented microbial ecosystems throughout the body, and have begun to link variation in them with various aspects of human health. Most recently, work in this area has started to fill in the story of how certain microbes interact with the molecular processes of their hosts to bring about the physiological changes scientists have observed.
Here, The Scientist takes a look at some
of those developments...
By Catherine Offord
Research in mice and humans
is beginning to establish a link
between the composition of
microbes in the gut and immune
responses to tumor cells, but
the mechanisms are not yet clear.