Scientists Call for Microbial “Noah’s Ark” to Protect Global Health
A Rutgers University–New Brunswick-led team of researchers is calling for the creation of a global microbiota vault to protect the long-term health of humanity.
Such a Noah’s Ark of beneficial germs would be gathered from human populations whose microbiomes are uncompromised by antibiotics, processed diets and other ill effects of modern society, which have contributed to a massive loss of microbial diversity and an accompanying rise in health problems. The human microbiome includes the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in and on our bodies, contributing to our health in a myriad of ways.
The researchers, who outline their proposal this week in the journal Science, liken their idea to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the world’s largest collection of crop diversity created in case of natural or human-made disasters.
“We’re facing a growing global health crisis, which requires that we capture and preserve the diversity of the human microbiota while it still exists,” said Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, the lead author and a professor in Rutgers–New Brunswick’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Department of Anthropology. “These microbes co-evolved with humans over hundreds of millennia. They help us digest food, strengthen our immune system and protect against invading germs. Over a handful of generations, we have seen a staggering loss in microbial diversity linked with a worldwide spike in immune and other disorders.”
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The Latest on: Global microbiota vaults
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