Day 92 -- The Microbiome is You

To illustrate the importance of hand washing, I got my son these petrie dishes and agar for Christmas. We'll just cook up the agar, let it solidify and cool, then swipe our hands on it and watch those microbes grow. I'm sure they won't look like this.

It's Science Friday, and #microbeweek. We're ready.
Turns out it's #microbeweek. I'm fascinated by microbes, and how we are walking talking sacks of microbes that do and do not get along with one another. Our microbes make up who we are.

Liaisons of Life: From Hornworts to Hippos, How the Unassuming Microbe Has Driven Evolutionby Tom Wakeford, is one of my favorite books.

Give this particular Science Friday a listen--if your body's bacteria doesn't fascinate you--when you hear this, it surely will. I have a gut feeling.

From the Science Friday website:

The Microbiome - Science Friday

Our bodies teem with tiny organisms.

Your Very Special Microbial Cloud - Science Friday

It's floating all around you, all the time-a wafting cloud formed by billions of bacteria that slough off your body with every movement you make. At the Biology and the Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon, researchers have revealed that not only can they detect and catalog this personal microbial cloud, but each person's cloud is unique.

P.S. Beatrix Potter is my hero. She discovered the symbiosis of lichen, which is both cyanobacteria and fungi. But her peers didn't believe her, nor did they even care to try. Here is an excerpt from a paper written in response to the book, "Liaisons of Life"
Scientific papers that concurred with and extended observations of Simon Schwendener (ca. 1870) garnered much evidence that lichens were not plants. The superb naturalist and artist Beatrix Potter had, in the late 1890s, prepared detailed studies, including beautiful watercolor plates, of many British lichens. Indeed, no lichen was a plant—the more she observed, the surer she became that lichens were “dual organisms”: a green partner in intimate contact with a fungal associate in each case examined. Though Potter is famous today as the author of the popular and charming Peter Rabbit series of children's books, few know the story Wakeford tells of her thwarted career as a scientific investigator. Not only was her work ridiculed and rejected by the botanists of the day (e.g., Reverend Leighton in his classic book The Lichen-Flora of Great Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands [1871] wrote, “I have purposely omitted any mention of the Schwendenerian Theory of Lichens, as I cannot but regard it as purely imaginary, the baseless fabric of a vision,” and well-known naturalist Reverend James Crombie mused, “A useful and invigorating parasitism—who ever before heard of such a thing?”). As a woman, Potter was even refused entry to the open sessions of the Linnean Society, Burlington House, London, where these issues were routinely discussed. In the end, in 1897, her influential and favorite uncle, the chemist Sir Henry Roscoe, was permitted to read her paper for her. The manuscript itself was lost and not until a century later, in 1997, did Potter receive an official—of course, posthumous— apology from that venerable society for its treatment of her undoubtedly correct Schwendenerist analyses of lichens. The term Schwendenerist was one of serious abuse: It mocked not only those who claimed that lichens were not plants but any who took seriously the importance of symbiosis in physiology, taxonomy, and evolution. Botanist M. C. Cooke wrote in 1879 that “even if endorsed by the nineteenth century,” such ludicrous symbiotic ideals “will certainly be forgotten in the twentieth.”

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