The human microbiome is a complex and ever-changing ecosystem made up of trillions of microbes that coexist in a delicate balance. But what happens when this microbiome is disrupted?
It’s well-established that the microbiome plays a crucial role in human health, and a growing body of evidence suggests that disruptions to the microbiome can lead to a wide range of diseases. But how does this happen?
One theory is that disruptions to the microbiome can occur when different microbiomes “collide.” This can happen when someone is exposed to a new microbiome, such as when they travel to a new country or are exposed to a new food or medicine. This exposure can disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome and lead to disease.
There is still much to learn about the microbiome and how it affects human health, but the theory of microbiome collisions is a promising new area of research that could help us better understand and treat a wide range of diseases.
When microbiomes collide
The human body is home to trillions of microbes that play a crucial role in our health. But what happens when different microbiomes meet?
A new study has shown that when the microbiomes of two people come into contact, they exchange microbes and may even alter each other’s composition.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, could have implications for the way we think about hygiene, disease transmission and even the microbiome’s role in health.
Previous studies have shown that the microbiome can be affected by contact with other humans, but it was not clear if this was due to an exchange of microbes or simply an alteration in the composition of one microbiome as a result of the other.
To investigate, the researchers took samples from the hands, foreheads and armpits of 10 pairs of identical twins and 10 pairs of non-identical twins before and after they hugged.
They found that there was a significant exchange of microbes between the twins, regardless of whether they were identical or not.
Interestingly, the exchanged microbes were more likely to be the same species if the twins were identical, suggesting that there is a preference for like microbes to stick together.
The findings have implications for the way we think about hygiene and disease transmission. For example, if two people with different microbiomes come into contact, it is possible that microbes from one person could alter the composition of the other person’s microbiome in a way that makes them more susceptible to disease.
It is also possible that the reverse could happen, and that contact with someone with a different microbiome could introduce beneficial microbes that protect against disease.
Further studies are needed to investigate the potential health implications of microbiome exchange, but the findings suggest that we may need to rethink the way we think about hygiene and disease transmission.