The quality of our microbiome has been called into question for decades.
But a new study shows that it is not only the microbes that can be improved, but also how we interact with them.
The results, published this week in the journal Nature, offer new insights into how we can help our microbes grow, flourish and even become part of our daily lives.
The researchers, led by Dr. Thomas J. Perry, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, found that in addition to how microbes behave, the microbes themselves can be transformed by human activities.
“Our study has demonstrated for the first time that the microbiome itself is a fundamental determinant of our wellbeing,” said Dr. Perry.
“This suggests that it can change our behavior, our moods, our physiology, our cognition, even our immune system.”
Researchers at UC San Francisco used genetic technology to identify genes involved in microbial metabolism.
These genes encode enzymes and proteins, called microbial metabolic enzymes.
These enzymes are essential for the health of our bodies, but we don’t have access to them.
To do so, they developed a computer model that allowed them to identify and model the genes involved.
This allowed them identify which genes are needed for specific metabolic functions and which genes might be necessary for others.
Using this computer model, they identified two genes that play a key role in metabolism.
One gene, called COVID-19 (which stands for coronavirus-19), controls the growth of certain types of bacteria in the intestine.
The other gene, COVID14 (which stood for coronovirus-14), regulates the growth and activity of certain strains of microbes that are important in the digestion of food.
The results suggest that, as in all other aspects of our biology, our microbes can improve our quality of life and health.
“Our findings are a step forward in understanding how microbes influence our health and wellbeing, and in how we might improve the microbial ecology of our cells,” said co-author Dr. Josephine Pfeifer, a research scientist at UC Santa Barbara.
The study also suggests that we should pay attention to our microbiome in the context of our health.
This is because our microbiome is not just a collection of microbes.
It includes our own bodies and the microbes we share with them, such as bacteria in our gut and in our mouths.
In addition to the COVID19 gene, the researchers also identified genes involved with gut flora.
These bacteria are important for our overall health and our ability to digest our food.
“One of the main things that we need to understand about the microbiome is how it functions in the human body,” said lead author Dr. Eric D. Pfeiffer, associate dean for research at UCSan Diego.
“Understanding how the microbiome functions in our bodies and how we affect the microbiome in our cells is a critical part of understanding our health.”
Dr. Perry and Dr. Pyeffer are co-authors of the study.
They were supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. _____