Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Microbes and the Modern World

Microbes and the Modern World: Jessica Green 

On May 8th I attended a public lecture on indoor microbial diversity by Jessica Green of the University of Oregon (lecture series found here). One of my favorite take away points from the lecture was about the similarity between microbes found on plans and in outdoor air, and microbes found on humans and those found in filtered air. The connections made between the built environment and natural microbial diversity brought to light aspects I had not thought about before. The final video that was shown was also very intriguing. If we share so many microbes with those we are around the most, are they making up are identity more than our cells are? This makes me think of the nature versus nurture argument, does out nature, our cells, or nurture, our microbes, decide who we are. I am of the mind that it is a mixture of both, As more research is done, as with the roller derby team and their microbes, it will be interesting to see how similar our microbes are. I would think that the people I spend more time with, I share more microbes with, it is almost sentimental. 

The studies done in hospitals with also be interesting to follow up on. I have always been of the mind that fresh air can sure just about anything, but when it comes to air born infectious disease this may not be the case. Rooms studied that used mechanical air filter systems had lower pollen count and lower microbial diversity. This means less good microbes as wall as less bad microbes. If it is possible to use the “architectural yogurt” in hospitals how would the way we look at microbes change? I agree that the benefits of microbes are often overlooked and changing how people view them is an important aspect on education. 

If you found Jessica’s lecture interesting you should check out the episode “Guts”  by WNYC’s Radiolab which can be found here.

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