“The microbiota is not accidental,” says Dr. Martin Blaser, Director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University and author of Missing Microbes. “The microbiota has co-evolved with us over very long periods of time, and it performs beneficial functions for us, just as we perform beneficial functions for it…We are all working together as an ecological unit.” Since our species–and all of life–has existed on earth, we have been in the company of microbes: microbes reside in our intestines, on our skin, and in the environments we live in. These bugs have at times been opportunistic pathogens, preying on the vulnerabilities of individuals and populations, but they have more frequently been some of our oldest evolutionary friends. 

The trouble is, the microbiota as we’ve known it is disappearing.

 

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

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