This post is by MSU grad student Connie Rojas:
Microbes colonize every surface of their hosts. Once established, they do not live in isolated patches, but instead form highly regulated, structurally and functionally organized communities, termed ‘microbiota’. Due to the interplay of the host’s immune system with its microbiota, many members are commensals or mutualists, performing functions critical for host health and physiology. In the human mouth, resident microbiota secrete antimicrobials and enzymes that contribute to oral health. In the mammalian gastrointestinal tract, microbiota synthesize vitamins, and supply the host with energy released from the fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates. In the human vagina, members of the microbiota produce lactic acid, which maintains a low pH environment thought to protect against infection. However, despite the explosion in microbiome research, we know very little about the additional functions microbes are performing within their hosts. We also do not know whether or how they have affected the behavior and evolution of their hosts.
Read at: BEACON