The Human Microbiome
Humans have spent the last 80 years trying to rid ourselves and our environment of "germs." Antibiotics have saved countless livesbut with unintended consequences to our microbiomes that we are only beginning to understand.
In this game, your mission is to destroy an infectious colony of bacteria. But watch out—the bacteria have a trick up their sleeves.
Discover how different types of antibiotics fight infection and how they influence your resident microbes.
Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, making infections harder to cure. Learn more about antibiotic resistance and its medical challenges.
Microscopic life form, including bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, viruses, and mites.
A collection or community of microbes.
The full collection of genes of all the microbes in a community. The human microbiome is a counterpart to the human genome. The human genome is the collection of all of our genes. The human microbiome is the collection of all of the genes in all of the microbes in and on our bodies. The genes in our microbiome outnumber the genes in our genome by about 100 to 1.
Intro to Microbiomes
Microbes are everywhere: in the soil, in the water, and even in our bodies. That's right! Microbes cover every surface of our bodies, both inside and out. These microscopic life forms represent thousands of species, and they outnumber our own cells by about 10 to 1.
Some scientists view our resident microbes as a newly discovered and largely unexplored organ, with many functions that are essential for life. Explore the pages below to learn more about the human microbiome.
Our genome is fixed for life, but our microbiome changes over time. Learn how our experiences influence the microbiome.
A few microbes cause disease, but most do not. In fact, many are essential for good health.
We acquire our microbiomes from the environment at birth. As we grow up, our microbial profiles change along with us.
DNA-sequencing tools help us see the microbiome more clearly than we could before, giving us new respect for all it does for us.
We aren't just single individuals wandering the planet: we're walking ecosystems. And like in other ecosystems, microbes interact in communities, and they respond to their surroundings.
Just like our planet, the human body has many different environments, each with a unique set of biotic and abiotic factors.
Disrupting our microbial ecosystems can cause disease, and some diseases disrupt our microbial ecosystems. Learn how manipulating these interactions may help doctors manage diseases.
Plants and animals have microbiomes too! Explore these examples to learn about the role of microbes in several of Earth’s ecosystems.