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Microbiome Science

[Microbiome - Mayo Clinic]

- Microbiome and Microbiota

The terms "microbiome" and "microbiota" are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.  The microbiome is the collection of genomes from all the microorganisms in an environment. 

The microbiota is the community of microorganisms themselves. The microbiome includes the microorganisms, their genomes, and the surrounding environmental conditions. The microbiota can include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The microbiome is broader than the microbiota. 

For example, the human body is not homogeneously colonized by microbes. Each body compartment contains its own microbiota. Even the microbiota from one body site may differ depending on the area of sampling. 

The terms "microbiome" and "microbiota" were originally used to refer to the collection of genomes of the microbes in a particular ecosystem and the actual organisms, respectively.


In fact, a person's gut microbiome may be completely different from their skin microbiome, so we need to be careful when talking about the source of the microbiome.


- Microbiome vs. Microbiodata

The microbiome of each organism is independent, and the diversity of microbiomes between individuals is enormous. In fact, there can be many differences in the makeup of a person's microbiome. In humans, there are many specific and independent microbiomes. For example, the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract all have distinct microbiomes. The combination of these microbiomes makes up each individual's unique microbiome. 

Microbiota are "ecological communities of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms" found in and on all multicellular organisms studied to date from plants to animals. Microbiota includes bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses. Microbiota have been found to be crucial for immunologic, hormonal and metabolic homeostasis of their host. The term microbiome describes either the collective genomes of the microorganisms that reside in an environmental niche or the microorganisms themselves. 

The microbiome and host emerged during evolution as a synergistic unit from epigenetics and genetic characteristics, sometimes collectively referred to as a holobiont. Rapidly developing sequencing methods and analytical techniques are enhancing our ability to understand the human microbiome, and, indeed, how we define the microbiome and its constituents. The human microbiota consists of the 10-100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells harbored by each person, primarily bacteria in the gut; the human microbiome consists of the genes these cells. 

Microbiome projects worldwide have been launched with the goal of understanding the roles that these symbionts play and their impacts on human health.


- Microbiota and Human Health

A diverse gut microbiota consists of different types of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) that produce thousands of powerful compounds and coexist harmoniously in the habitat of the host gut. Dietary and lifestyle patterns are the most impactful factors influencing the variety of bacteria in your gut, which in turn can affect your health. The impact on your health will depend on whether this diversity is low or high.

Think of your healthy gut microbiota as a diverse rain forest in which plants, animals and humans and their activities live together in a peaceful day. World Microbiome Day2020 recalls that a diverse gut microbiota is an important indicator of a healthy gut and of one’s well-being. The best way to maintain its diversity is to eat a varied diet, with both animal and plant-based foods, fermented foods containing probiotics, dietary fibers, some of which have prebiotic properties, to exercise, to manage stress and, finally, not to forget to stay hydrated.

- Metabolic Syndrome

What causes some people to develop chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and metabolic syndrome while others stay healthy? A major clue could be found in their gut microbiome — the trillions of microbes living inside the digestive system that regulate various bodily functions. 

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. 

Having just one of these conditions doesn't mean you have metabolic syndrome. But it does mean you have a greater risk of serious disease. And if you develop more of these conditions, your risk of complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, rises even higher.  

Metabolic syndrome is increasingly common, and up to one-third of U.S. adults have it. If you have metabolic syndrome or any of its components, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems.


[Budapest, Hungary - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- The Human Microbiome

We humans are mostly microbes, over 100 trillion of them. Microbes outnumber our human cells ten to one. The majority live in our gut, particularly in the large intestine. The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes - bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses - that live on and inside the human body. 

The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome. The microbiome may weigh as much as five pounds. The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation. The microbiome was not generally recognized to exist until the late 1990s.

The microbiome is essential for human development, immunity and nutrition. The bacteria living in and on us are not invaders but beneficial colonizers. Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia are associated with dysfunction in the microbiome. Disease-causing microbes accumulate over time, changing gene activity and metabolic processes and resulting in an abnormal immune response against substances and tissues normally present in the body. Autoimmune diseases appear to be passed in families not by DNA inheritance but by inheriting the family’s microbiome.


- Why Our Microbes Could Be Key To Our Health

A person’s microbiome may influence their susceptibility to infectious diseases and contribute to chronic illnesses of the gastrointestinal system like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Some collections of microbes determine how a person responds to a drug treatment. The microbiome of the mother may affect the health of her children. Researchers mapping the human microbiome are discovering previously uncharted species and genes. Genetic studies that measure the relative abundance of different species in the human microbiome have linked various combinations of microbe species to certain human health conditions. A more complete understanding of the diversity of microbes in the human microbiome could lead to new therapies, perhaps treating a bacterial infection caused by a “bad” bacteria by growing more “good” bacteria. The HMP serves as a roadmap for discovering the role of the microbiome in health, nutrition, immunity, and disease.


- Microbiome Science Research

Communal microorganisms inhabit the Earth and the human body in astonishing numbers. Bacteria are 100 million times more numerous than the stars in the universe and represent a billion species. These interactive organisms perform often little understood services that profoundly shape the Earth and influence human health.

These interactive organisms perform often little understood services that profoundly shape the Earth and influence human health.

Microbiome Science uses omics and synthetic biology to investigate the functional architecture of communal organisms. Their work opens avenues for bioengineered advances in drug discovery, personalized medicine, and renewable fuels. It also increases our knowledge of chemical-microbiome interactions and the ecosystem-scale role of microbial communities. 

Microbiomes play a role in key biosystems; on ecosystem function and sustainability; on chemical and other environmental exposures; on the interplay of proteins, lipids, and metabolites within microbiomes; and on predictive behaviors on both human and ecological scales.


[More to come ...]


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