“There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. But these tiny compatriots are invisible to the naked eye. . . . artist Ben Arthur gives a guided tour of the rich universe of the human microbiome.”
Fun to watch and informative!
YOUR body is host to 101 fungal species, with each person harboring between 9 and 23 strains.
“A growing number of researchers feel that alongside bacteria, the fungi that inhabit our bodies – or, collectively, the “mycobiome” — may also be influential in both our well-being and, at times, disease.”
If your fungi are out of balance it’s not healthy.
“Even when we are alone, we are never alone. We exist in symbiosis — a wonderful term that refers to different organisms living together. Some animals are colonised by microbes while they are still unfertilised eggs; others pick up their first partners at the moment of birth. We then proceed through our lives in their presence. When we eat, so do they. When we travel, they come along. When we die, they consume us. Every one of us is a zoo in our own right — a colony enclosed within a single body. A multi-species collective. An entire world.”
Changes in our resident microbiota and their collective genome — called the microbiome — have been linked with a wide range of diseases, from various forms of arthritis to depression. At this point scientists tend to focus on which bacterial species might hinder or maintain health.
But our biota comprises a menagerie of microbes. And a growing number of researchers feel that alongside bacteria, the fungi that inhabit our bodies may also be influential in both our well-being and, at times, disease.
Fungi Out Of Balance
A Telltale Sign For Unwanted Fungi
- French researchers distinguished the fungi present in healthy human lungs compared with those afflicted with cystic fibrosis. Aspergillus was most prevalent in the lungs of healthy people, whereas various Candida species dominated in those afflicted with CF and other lung disorders.
- UCLA professor David Underhill found that mammalian fungi interact with the immune system to control inflammation in the gut.
- Mice in which the gene encoding for Dectin-1 was inactivated and in which colitis was induced came down with far more severe disease than mice with the active gene. With these findings in hand they then identified a Dectin-1 gene variant in humans that predicted a severe form of inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis.
- Recent unpublished findings by Ghannom’s lab show that an interaction between fungi and bacteria in the gut aggravates the body’s autoimmune response in Crohn’s disease, another form of inflammatory bowel disease.
- In collaboration with a group at Cleveland Clinic, Ghannoum also beginning to show that oral fungal populations are different in people with head and neck cancers.
- Recent research found that autoimmune arthritis can be induced in mice injected with certain compounds found in fungal cell walls.
“None of these factors are working in isolation . . .it’s probably a confluence of them all interacting with each other and with us – what we eat, what kind of nutrients they have, genetic influences and how our immune system reacts to both fungi and bacteria in the gut.”
“We’re in a stage where we’re recognizing the biological significance of the fungi in our systems to help develop a common language and set of research approaches,” Underhill says. “Soon, hopefully, we’ll know how they can be good for us, bad for us and manipulated to our benefit.”
“There’s a certain beauty in our biologic cooperative; a reminder that mammalian life is complicated and communal, and that in nature imbalance has consequences. But perhaps tinkering with our fungal dwellers will one day help restore our biologic balance and fend off disease.”
Read the entire article The Human Body’s Complicated Relationship with Fungus.