Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A term in microbial ecology: disappearing microbiota hypothesis

Occurrences of certain medical conditions and diseases such as asthma, food allergies, hay fever, eczema, diabetes, obesity and celiac disease are dramatically going up. The physician and director of the Human Microbiome Program, Martin Blaser at New York University's School of Medicine is hypothesizing that the disappearance of microbiota from the human body is to blame. This loss of  microbiome species is largely caused by our obsessive use of antibacterial soaps and lotions as well as frequent treatments with antibiotics [1,2]:
Though they have always known that antibiotics kill “good” bacteria as well as “bad,” doctors generally assumed the body's microbial community was resilient enough to bounce back. But new studies show that the microbiome struggles to recover from repeated assaults, and may lose species permanently. Blaser suspects that diversity loss is cumulative, worsening from one generation to the next. He calls it “the disappearing microbiota hypothesis.” [boldface by author]
How clean should we be, without cleaning out the good microbes—or disturbing the balance between good, bad and neutral ones—that live behind our ears, in our armpits and in our gut and mouth?

Keywords: microbial diversity, microbiome, microbiology, medicine, hygiene, human health.

References and more to explore
[1] Martin J. Blaser, M. D. [http://www.med.nyu.edu/biosketch/blasem01/research].
[2] Richard Conniff: The Body Eclectic. Smithsonian May 30, 2013, 44 (2), pp. 40-47 [www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Microbes-The-Trillions-of-Creatures-Governing-Your-Health-204134001.html].

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