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Humans as Host

The exact number of bacteria living in or on humans isn't known, though it is estimated to be around a trillion. In any case, the number of microbial cells in the human body outnumbers the human ones by a factor of 10. Those symbiotic microbes endow humans with otherwise unattainable metabolic capabilities, but also may contribute to human disease. What is certain, however, is that humans may really be classified as super-organisms ā€” and ones that are mainly bacterial at that.

"There's a huge amount of gene activity [in the human body] that's being carried out by microbes," says George Weinstock, associate director of the Genome Center at Washington University in St. Louis. "There just has to be a very large impact of all of that microbial genetic activity on both healthy body as well as when pathological conditions set in different parts of the body. I think we're right at the very, very beginning of an extremely exciting era where we're going to make connections between things that we waved our hands about in the past or didn't understand or may not have even focused on."

Comments (1)

  1. Wow thats cool and nasty at the same time. but if there were more bacteria living in us then our own cells, then how much weight to the human body do they contribute I wonder?

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