Human Microbiome: Definition, Effect on Health, Examples, Human Microbiome Project, and Importance

Human Microbiome: Definition, Effect on Health, Examples, Human Microbiome Project, and Importance

Microbiome: Definition

Over 100 trillion microbes make up what we humans are. Human cells are ten to one outnumbered by microbes. Most of them reside in our gut, particularly in the large intestine. All the bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that inhabit and exist inside the human body are collectively known as the microbiome. 200 times as many genes make up the human genome as all the bacteria combined in one person’s microbiome. Up to five pounds of the microbiota could be present. The bacteria in our microbiome aid in digestion, control immune function, guarding against disease-causing germs, and even generate vitamins like Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, and the B vitamins B12, thiamine, and riboflavin. Before the late 1990s, the microbiome was not well acknowledged.

Effect on Health

Human growth, immunity, and nutrition depend on the microbiome. The bacteria that reside in and on us are helpful colonisers rather than foreign invaders. Dysfunction in the microbiome is linked to autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. As disease-causing microorganisms build up over time, they alter metabolic and gene activity, which causes an aberrant immune response against cells, tissues, and substances that are typically found in the body. The family’s microbiome appears to carry autoimmune illnesses down across generations rather than through DNA inheritance.

Some examples:

• Twins who are obese and those who are slim have distinct gut microbiomes. With a reduced variety of bacteria and higher amounts of enzymes, obese twins are better at breaking down food and absorbing calories. Furthermore, a bad microbial assemblage in the gut has been linked to obesity.

• An autoimmune condition is known as type I diabetes is linked to less varied gut microbiota. Bacteria have been linked to diabetes development in animal studies.

• By altering the gut microbiome’s composition, dust from dog-owning households may lessen the immunological response to allergens and other asthma causes. Childhood allergies are less likely to develop in infants who live in homes with dogs.

• Fecal microbiota transplantation, often known as FMT or faecal transplantation, is a medical technique that involves delivering healthy human donor faeces through colonoscopy or enema to the colon. FMT has been used to treat potentially fatal Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) and reestablish healthy gut flora. FMT is also used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and colitis.

Human Microbiome Project (HMP)

The human microbiome is being mapped by research projects around the world, providing information on genes and undiscovered organisms. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), a division of the National Institutes of Health, is funding one project, the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) (NIH). As an expansion of the Human Genome Project, the HMP started in 2008. It is a $150 million, a five-year feasibility study that is being conducted at various locations around the US. The HMP aims to describe the human microbiome and examine its function in human health and disease by studying the human as a supraorganism made up of non-human and human cells. The HMP’s main objective is to characterise the metagenomes—the collective genomes of all the microbes—of the 300 healthy individuals’ microbiomes across time. Skin, mouth, nose, colon, and vagina are the five bodily regions that are tested.


The microbiome of an individual may affect their propensity to contract infectious diseases and play a role in chronic gastrointestinal conditions including Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. The way a person reacts to pharmacological therapy is determined by certain assemblages of microorganisms. The mother’s microbiome may have an impact on her children’s health. Researchers who are analysing the human microbiome are finding new species and genes. Numerous combinations of microbe species have been related to specific human health issues in genetic studies that assess the relative abundance of diverse species in the human microbiome. A deeper comprehension of the variety of microbes found in the human microbiome may result in innovative treatments, such as growing more “good” bacteria to treat an infection brought on by “bad” bacteria. The HMP acts as a guide for figuring out how the microbiome affects immunity, disease, nutrition, and overall health.

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