A life without bacteria

We live in a microbial world; microorganisms contribute just as much a part in human biology as they do in the biology of animals. As they do in humans, microbes colonize the gut and external surface of animals, as well as some reproductive organs.[1] But what would happen if we lived in a microbe-free world?

To answer that question, and many more, ‘germ-free animals’ are a focus of research to help study the effects of certain microbes. This concept is certainly not new – some say it dates back to 1855.

Research has shown that the animals that harbour no associated forms of life, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, are notoriously fragile with decreased immune resistance to infection.

hands bacteria

The research has shown that the animals that harbour no associated forms of life, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, are notoriously fragile with decreased immune resistance to infection. They also have elevated stress response and their brains do not develop normally resulting in weaker populations with higher death rates.

The complexity of evolution, in which we have co-evolved with microbes, means that we do not know the exact role microbes have played in developing key bodily functions and responses.  Yet it is increasingly clear that we have a lot to thank our microbiome for. end

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685587/

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