Monday, June 4, 2012

Microbes and the Modern World
From the Globe to the Gut
Dr. Karen Guillemin

Dr. Guillemin, an associate professor in biology at the University of Oregon gave an interesting lecture discussing microbes in the human body. She told the story microbes in the body by using paintings as a real life representation of what is going on in the body. Through her research and the Human Microbio project, scientists are trying to describe the microbial ecosystem in the body. In this project, they are trying to figure out what factors determine community composition, how stable these guy microbial communities are, and can change the microbial community cause disease? Another question scientists are trying to address is the hygiene hypothesis or the disappearing microbiota hypothesis. Right now there is a correlation but scientists must get causation before it is accepted in the science community. By using zebra fish in the laboratory, they are trying to answer these questions.
         By studying the gut communities in these zebra fish you can predict what is happening in the human gut. In the wild type zebra fish, there is a normal gut community where food is moved by a peristaltic waves. The mutant fish's gut community did not exist and there was also an inflammation and lack of peristaltic waves. From this, scientists are able to see the effects of microbes in the guts on the function of the gut. This is represented by a continuing flow in the relationship between the gut health, the gut environment, and the gut community.
         Microbes that are found in your gut, like the ones in this study are determined from a variety of factors stemming from when you are first born. What microbes you start off with depend on if you have a natural birth or if you are born by a c-section. After this first moment on earth, everything you encounter effects your microbial make up, including the food we eat. However, the food we eat is becoming increasingly more and more sterile and processed. This is causing a decrease in the natural microbes that you would normally encounter in non processed food.
         Dr. Guillemin finishes the lecture with suggestions on how to nurture your gut microbes. She suggests that you use antibiotics sparingly and when you only really need them, avoid food that your grandmothers microbes wouldn't recognize, and to nurture your environmental microbes by supporting responsible use of antibiotics in agriculture and animal husbandry.


Grebes. University of Oregon. Retrieved June 2, 2012.

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