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Go with the gut: Our symbiotic relationship with our intestinal bacteria

By Andi Horvath

Chemistry researcher Assoc Prof Spencer Williams talks about the rapidly emerging understanding of human microbiota - the diverse and numerous microorganisms that reside on and within our bodies - and particularly how the composition of our gut flora can determine the state of our own health.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

ANDI HORVATH
I'm Dr Andi Horvath, thanks for joining us. Today we bring you up close, to your own microbes. There are literally trillions of microbes that live in and on our body. They include bacteria, fungi like yeasts, parasites and viruses. They outnumber our human cells 10 to one and their genes outnumber our genes one hundred fold. But humans are not just a walking talking host for a complex system of microorganisms it's in fact a critical symbiosis, we can't exist without them and they need for us for survival as well.

Microbes perform functions that our cells can't do. Like digest certain carbohydrates, but the community of microbes, known as the microbiome provide metabolites that actually affect our human genes and they regulate things like our digestive processes, our hormonal and immune systems and even our brains.

You've probably heard of the Human Genome Project, the map of all human genes. Well now it's the era of the Human Microbiome Project. Since 2012 scientists have aimed to characterise the microbes, their genes and how they connect to our health and diseases. For example, the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are kind of still unknown, but scientific evidence...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.