You Are 10% Human. 90% Bacteria. (Video)


Image credit: TED/Bonnie Bassler

Earlier this week, I wrote a post wondering whether we should think of composting as animal husbandry—given the vast array of living organisms that exist in a compost heap. Now I am wondering whether the same term could apply to simply living. Because I've just come across a video that highlights the astounding role that bacteria play in keeping us alive. But be warned—viewing it made me feel less human, yet I didn't mind one bit. This video has been around a while, but it seemed so relevant to our topic of composting that I couldn't help but post it. We already know that eating good bacteria can help our bodies to be healthy, and that our overly clean environment may be giving rise to more allergies and poorer immune systems. So the groundwork for a reversal of our germophobic ways may just already be underway.

But the talk below, by Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University (discovered via Permaculture & Regenerative Design News) puts the world of bacteria, and their interaction with humans, in an astounding new light. She starts out by pointing out that our human cells, and human DNA, are outnumbered by somewhere between a factor of 10 and 100 by bacterial cells and DNA respectively. As she so provocatively puts it, "when I look at you, I think of you as 1 or 10 percent human and either 90 or 99 percent bacterial."

But that's just the start of the insights. Because Bassler has been busy discovering how bacteria "talk". Check it out, it's amazing stuff. Just what it means for sustainable living, I—and my bacterial buddies—haven't quite digested yet. But I'll be sure to think twice next time I am offered anti-bacterial soap...


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Tags: Antibiotics | Bacteria | United States

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