What is a Microbiota?
Think of your body as its very own biosphere, with its very own species and communities of organisms vying for survival. A vast network of invisible entities work day and night to keep you alive and healthy!
A good example is the fact that a multitude of bacteria live inside your digestive tract, helping with your normal cycles of digestion and release of waste. Furthermore the large communities of bacteria and microorganisms that live on every square millimeter of our skin, aiding in our body’s defenses against invaders.
Now, you are probably wondering how this came to be? Personally I would like to think that there is a balance of energy that has to exist for advanced creatures, such as ourselves, to exist. The way these mutualistic relationships evolved can only be hypothesized, but we can have pretty good ideas.
I recently read this article from my weekly Nature magazine subscription titled “Maternal microbes support fetal brain wiring”. The whole premise of the section was to support the idea that the microbiome of a mother, while in gestation, has a profound impact on the lives of progeny. They experimented on mice, with an experimental group of mothers treated with antibiotics to “clear” out there gut microbiomes. The control group were mothers who had normal microbiomes present throughout gestation.
The results showed that the offspring of mothers who had altered microbiomes had abnormal offspring, with impaired neurobehaviors. Abnormalities included delays in reaction times to external stimuli that normal individuals otherwise manifested. What does this mean?
In simple terms, it means that maternal microbiomes are incredibly important for the development of offspring. Disruption of the microbiota can lead to abnormalities and blunted formation of important sensory networks. This is very interesting to me, as it opens the idea that perhaps one day, we could possibly use this concept as the focal point in eliminating a vast array of disorders that can be detected early in pregnancy.
Also, what if we could implement a method of microbiome backed treatment for human offspring that greatly enhances specific traits OR the creation of humans immune to certain ailments? I would imagine that a “perfect” combination of microbial components in a microbiome can lead to awe inspiring discoveries of developmental biology.
Thank you for anyone reading about my ramblings. Here is the link to the article if you are interested.