Report answers questions about the human microbiome and its role in health, obesity

The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes. As science continues to explore and better understand the role of the human microbiome. A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology addresses some of the most common questions about this growing area of research.

The report, entitled FAQ: Human Microbiome is based on the deliberations of 13 of the nation's leading experts who met to develop clear answers to frequently asked questions regarding the human microbiome and its role in .

Some of the questions considered by the report are:

  • What is the human microbiome?
  • Where does our microbiome come from?
  • How big is the microbiome?
  • Where is the microbiome located, and what is it doing?
  • What is the relationship between the microbiome, health, and disease?

"Scientists are experiencing startling insights into the role that microorganisms play, not only in disease, but more importantly in our health and well-being," says Lita Proctor of the National Human Genome Research Institute, a member of the steering committee of the report. Proctor is also Program Director for the Human Microbiome Project, an 8-year undertaking by the National Institutes of Health to identify and characterize the microorganisms which are found in association with both healthy and diseased humans.

This infographic shows interesting facts about the human microbiome. Credit: American Academy of Microbiology

Researchers have long known that bacteria reside on and within the , but traditional microbiology has typically focused on the study of individual species as isolated, culturable units. Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies and other molecular techniques have allowed for more comprehensive examination of these microbes as communities that have evolved intimate relationships with their hosts over millions of years. Scientists now recognize that the microbiome may be responsible for a broad variety of metabolic and developmental processes from food digestion to vitamin synthesis, and even brain function. The report also includes sections highlighting the role of the microbiome in human conditions such as obesity and , and offers some general tips on what can be done to maintain a healthy microbiome.

"The American Academy of Microbiology has produced a creative and informative resource on the human microbiome for a wide audience which describes the beauty and complexity of the human microbiome, the insults we may be causing our microbiomes as a result of common practices in our modern societies, why we now need to include the microbiome when considering human health, and the future research directions for this emerging field which combines medicine, ecology and evolution," says Proctor.

FAQ: Human Microbiome is the latest offering in a series of reports designed to provide a rapid response to emerging issues or to highlight the role of microbes in daily life. Previous FAQ reports have covered topics like the role of microorganisms in cleaning up oil spills and the central role of yeast in the production of beer.

More information: http://academy.asm.org/index.php/faq-series/5122-humanmicrobiome?utm_source=pr&utm_medium=outreach&utm_campaign=FAQMicrobiome

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Your body's microbiome has a unique 'fingerprint'

Apr 23, 2013

The microbiome is your body's set of microbial communities; microbial cells outnumber human cells roughly ten to one. Through studying the microbiome, scientists are learning more the relationship between these microbes and ...

Human breast milk microbiome changes over time

Jan 28, 2013

(HealthDay)—The microbiome of breast milk is influenced by many factors, including maternal weight and how the baby was delivered, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nu ...

uBiome project seeking to sequence the human microbiome

Feb 20, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Three health researchers have set up a project called uBiome, on the crowd sourcing site indiegogo, with the aim of sequencing the human microbiome—microbes that live on and in the hu ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

11 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

14 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments