I recently returned from a microbiome conference. It was an amazing experience to listen and learn about the impact of the human microbiota on health, development, and evolution. The speakers included leading microbiologists, immunologists, geneticists, anthropologists, ecologists, and developmental biologists. The vital functions of microbial symbionts remained an overarching theme throughout each wonderfully unique and informative talk. While at the conference, I was reminded of the following quote:
“Life would not long remain possible in the absence of microbes.”—Louis Pasteur, circa 1883.
*contemplating microbes and Pasteur during a conference break…
Almost one year ago, PLOS Biology published a thought-provoking, conceptual piece by Drs. Jack Gilbert and Josh Neufeld. The article, entitled Life in a World without Microbes examined Pasteur’s statement. I won’t spoil their conclusion, but I’ll list a few of their comments:
- Microbes produce vitamin B12 for half of the phytoplankton*
- Humans depend upon gut microbes to produce amino acids and essential vitamins
- Without microbes, biogeochemical waste would accumulate rapidly—think about it…
Stay tuned for more gut microbiome-brain posts later this year.
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* phytoplankton form the base of many aquatic food chains and produce much of the world’s oxygen
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