Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Study: Human skin populated by veritable zoo of bacteria

Interesting.

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Human skin populated by veritable zoo of bacteria
-Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers on a safari for microbes have found that human skin is populated by a veritable menagerie of bacteria -- 182 species -- some apparently living there permanently and others just dropping by for a visit.

There's no need for alarm, said microbiologist Dr. Martin Blaser of New York University School of Medicine: the bacteria have been with us for quite a while and some are helpful...










Photo:

..."We identify about 182 species," Blaser said in an interview. "And based on those numbers, we estimate there are probably at least 250 species in the skin."

"In comparison," Blaser added, "a good zoo might have 100 species or 200 species. So we already know that there are as many different species in our skin, just on the forearm, as there are in a good zoo."

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms believed to have been the first living things on Earth. While some cause disease, bacteria also reside normally in our bodies, for example in the digestive tract, performing useful chores.

"Without good bacteria, the body could not survive," added Dr. Zhan Gao, a scientist in Blaser's lab involved in the study.

The researchers noted that microbes in the body actually outnumber human cells 10-to-1.


"Our microbes are actually, in essence, a part of our body," Blaser said.

"We think that many of the normal organisms are protecting the skin. So that's why I don't think it's a great idea to keep washing all the time because we're basically washing off one of our defense layers," Blaser added.
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Thanks Boingboing.

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