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Microbiome 225: The Tiny Ecosystem Living On Your Skin

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We've broken down the biome basics for you in Biome 101, and talked about what a biome looks like in the world (TL;DR: a localized community of plant and animal life). We spend most of our time discussing the microbiome -- let's see what that's all about!

The microbiome is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a mini biome. Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms living in localized regions, where climate, environment, and inhabitants all come together to create a unique biome. So many factors play into the success or failure of certain bacteria in a microbiome: moisture, oxygen, temperature, and the activities of the host organism (if there is one). At Mother Dirt we spend most of our time talking about the human skin microbiome, but the human gut microbiome is also being heavily researched.

Check out some of the cool microbiome topics we've discussed:

But microbiomes don't just exist in or on people; think about animals and plants, too! With the launch of the new National Microbiome Initiative, we're hearing more and more buzz in press and media about how microorganisms interact with humans, and the increased focus on research will hopefully shed some light on some other mysterious microbiomes. (Fun fact: because animals have different microbiomes, people who live with a pet have more diverse microbiomes. Try throwing that in the pitch next time you ask for a dog.)

Large scale or small scale, it's important to be conscious of how the different pieces fit into the whole. Bacteria gets a bad rap, but the truth is, it's not the bacteria that is the problem. Rather, it's the imbalance of the bacteria in your biome that causes the problem. For example, we all know staph infections are bad, and most of us have a fear of staph bacteria. But the truth is, we have staph living on us at all times!

Bacteria coexists with us, balances our biomes, and keeps us healthy and free of infection. Go ahead - embrace your bacteria ;)

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