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Variation in bacterial populations from person to person
Date: 2009-11-20   Read: 98144

Variation in bacterial populations from person to person

A team of US scientists that has developed the first map of bacterial diversity across nearly 30 sites of the human body from hair, to ears, nostrils, mouth, armpits, intestines, navels, backs of knees and soles of the feet, was surprised to find big person to person differences in variously sited bacterial populations among healthy individuals. They suggest this finding has important implications for human health, for instance in helping to identify genetic biomarkers for diseases.

The study, which was led by the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) and was published on 5th November in Science Express, the online version of the magazine, showed that humans are home to "personalized" communities of bacteria that vary widely from one part of the body to another.

Authors said that "This is the most complete view we have yet of the microbial side of ourselves, one that our group and others will be adding to over the coming years." Authors said they were aiming to find out what was normal for a healthy person so they could provide a baseline for people with diseases, but: "One of the biggest surprises was how much variation there was from person to person in a healthy group of subjects," he added.

Each of us carries an estimated 100 trillion "friendly" microbes on and inside our bodies. These are necessary for all aspects of our wellbeing, from supporting the resistance of unwanted pathogens to helping us digest certain essential foods.

The researchers concluded that: "These results indicate that our microbiota, although personalized, varies systematically across body habitats and time: Such trends may ultimately reveal how microbiome changes cause or prevent disease."


Adapted from materials provided by Medical News TODAY

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