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Map Of Human Bacterial Diversity Shows Wide Interpersonal Differences

A University of Colorado at Boulder team has developed the first atlas of bacterial diversity across the human body, charting wide variations in microbe populations that live in different regions of the human body and which aid us in physiological functions that contribute to our health.

The study showed humans carry "personalized" communities of bacteria around that vary widely from our foreheads and feet to our noses and navels, said CU-Boulder's Rob Knight, senior author on the paper published in the Nov. 6 issue of Science Express. The researchers found unexpectedly wide variability in bacterial communities from person to person in the study, which included nine healthy volunteers and which targeted 27 specific sites on the body.

"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," said Knight an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's chemistry and biochemistry department. "The goal is to find out what is normal for a healthy person, which will provide a baseline for further studies to look at people with diseased states. One of the biggest surprises was how much variation there was from person to person in a healthy group of subjects."
 
 

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