Just what are we humans?

Notes from Planet Earth

In the small intestine, where an overgrowth of normal gut bacteria would interfere with the absorption of nutrients, our intestinal cells secrete an antibacterial protein to keep the resident bacteria under control and at a distance. A similar antibacterial compound is found in insects which functions to keep the insect’s symbiotic bacteria from multiplying to the extent that they would harm or kill their host. Indeed, current research seems to indicate that most all higher organisms are partnered with a host of microbes, and often larger organisms as well, whose symbiotic functions are just beginning to be unraveled.

The word “biome” is used to describe a complex collection of plants, fungi, microorganisms, and larger organisms which live more or less compatibly in a specific habitat. Would it be too much of a stretch to refer to ourselves as biomes?

Questions and suggestions from readers are welcomed and will be responded to, contact me at cwdingman2@frontier.com.

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