ST on Health: Notes on Human Microbiomes (or, the Myriad Bacteria Living Both In and On Our Bodies)

Dec 17, 2015

On this edition of StudioTulsa on Health, guest host John Schumann looks into the human microbiome, which is the massive cluster of bacterial cells (or "microbes") that reside in and on a person's body. (How massive? There are many times as many microbial cells as there are human cells in your body.) In this hi-tech, digitized, human-genome-mapping day and age, microbes have become an increasingly popular area of scientific research, particularly in how they relate to the various antibiotics that we as human beings have come to rely on, as well as how they might -- perhaps -- affect our psychological moods, mindsets, outlooks, etc. (The question of whether microbes might be "traceable" -- much like fingerprints at a crime scene -- is also a rather hot topic in certain scientific circles.) Sean Gibbons is our guest; he's a postdoctoral associate in Biological Engineering at MIT, working in microbial ecology, evolution, complex systems, and bioinformatics. As noted at the biography for Gibbons within the MIT website: "Microorganisms form the foundation of all ecosystems on Earth and are responsible for driving the major biogeochemical cycles. From generating the air that we breathe and the food that we eat, to maintaining our health and well-being, microbial communities are essential components of the biosphere. Due to their size and rapid generation times, microbial ecosystems are perfect models for tackling complex ecological or evolutionary questions. My work exploits microbial systems to gain quantitative insight into the rules underlying ecological community assembly, stability, and ecosystem function." You can read articles, blog posts, and other writings by Gibbons (on microbes and matters related) at this link.