Humans as Microbial Planets

Saturday, March 9th, 2002
Abigail Salyers
Event Description

An important  part of the human condition this is usually overlooked by everyone except microbiologists is the fact that humans are born into a world that is dominated by a complex microbial population.  An infant is colonized withing the first few days of life and carries this microbial population for life.  Being a microbial planet is an inescapable fact of human life.  How does carrying a microbial population that has over 10 times as many members as there are cells of the human body affect us?  Interactions are nutritional and genetic; scientists are even beginning to suspect that our bacteria may be transferring DNA to our cells.  The human microbial population is largely benign, but an imbalance can cause disease.  Getting in touch with one's microbial self is an important step toward developing a full understanding of what it means to be human.

Abigail Salyers

Department of Microbiology