Old microbial friends key to good health

treesThe human microbiome is increasingly being recognised as an important part of our well-being. But research is showing that our interact with microbiomes in the environment can have a huge effect on the microbiomes in our bodies.

The beneficial bacteria that populate our body play a huge role in our metabolism and physiology. If the population of such bacteria go amiss, from say, a poor diet or a course of antibiotics, our health may suffer. Research by PhD student Craig Liddicoat, under the supervision of Professor Michelle Waycott and Professor Philip Weinstein has uncovered the need to interact with bacteria and pathogens in the environment.

Published in Bioscience, the research indicates that our changing lifestyles are making us lose contact with so called ‘old friends’, mild pathogens in nature that humans co-evolved with to help regulate our immune system. More research is needed to understand who these old friends are exactly and how we can keep in touch. Perhaps a more multidisciplinary approach to health and the environment is needed.

The research was achieved in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and informs the Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative which aims to encourage people to spend more time outdoors.

Find out more about this research by listening to the Bioscience Talks podcast, which features an interview with Liddicoat.


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