Nov 12, 2015

Your Gut May Be Home to an Entirely New Form of Life

Posted by in categories: genetics, health, life extension

Might be a good start point for some new longevity research.

A new genetic analysis of human gut bacteria is turning up some really weird critters—so weird, in fact, that some biologists are speculating we’ve found an entirely new domain of life. We should take that possibility with a healthy dose of skepticism. But here’s why it’s even being discussed.

In the past ten years, new genomic technologies have, for the first time, enabled scientists to explore our microbiome—that trove of invisible critters that live on us and in us. Microbiome research is quite literally rewriting the textbooks on human biology, as we learn that everything from our mouths to our intestines to our skin is, in fact a complex and diverse ecosystem. Hell, we’re even surrounded in a personal cloud of bacteria. By some estimates, the human cells in your body are vastly outnumbered by microbes.

Now that we’ve come to appreciate just how ubiquitous our microbial tenants are, we’re starting to drill deeper and learn their identities. And that’s led to some surprises. For one, a lot of the bugs living in our gut are totally distinct from anything we’ve encountered before.

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