Arma Virumque Cano

Stein writes that swabbing the forearms of three healthy men and three healthy women "revealed that human skin is populated by a diverse assortment of bacteria, including many previously unknown species, offering the first detailed peek at this potentially crucial ecosystem.

"The work is part of a broader effort by a small coterie of scientists to better understand the microbial world that populates the human body. Virtually every orifice and the digestive tract are swarming with bacteria, fungi and other microbes. By some estimates, only one out of every 10 cells in the body is human. "

The analysis by New York University's Martin Blaser found 182 species of microorganisms, of which 30 had never been seen before. Months later, a swab of four of the six volunteers found 65 more species, 14 of them heretofore unknown, and some of the old ones long gone. So when it comes to the symbiosis between microbes and humans, the cliché must be turned on its head because, now, forearmed is forewarned.

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1 thought on “Arma Virumque Cano”

  1. Dov Henis

    Here is a note I posted elsewhere on Sept 2005:


    An article in The Scientist, Vol 17 | Issue 19 | 25 | Oct. 6, 2003,
    “Microbial Co-op in Evolution”, expresses in vague “scientifically sophisticated” verbiage plain obvious observations about cooperation in evolution.

    Co-op in evolution started earlier than in microbial communities. It started between individual genes, who formed and elaborated cooperative associations, genomes.

    Life has always been and still is a fractal affair, repetition of phenomena on ever more complex scale. It cannot be otherwise; it evolves. And surviving-proliferating life has always been a cooperative affair since cooperation is most successful for overall survival/proliferation.


    The same note, re life as a cooperative affair, I applied in
    April 2005 re Scientific American’s “How animals do business”, F.B.M. de Waal, that traces and illuminates aspects of specific animals’ inter-relationship.


    Additionally reflect on us, humans:

    Some astounding numbers justify attention to our bacterial symbionts. There are ten times more bacteria cells colonizing a human than the number of human cells in the body (10^14 versus 10^13, respectively). Over 700 taxa can be found at a single site. The structures of communities vary tremendously. The gut might be considered New York City, whereas the skin is perhaps more like Memphis.

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