WE NEED TO PRESERVE OUR MICROBIAL HERITAGE FOR THE HEALTH OF FUTURE GENERATIONS
1. YOU’RE FULL OF MICROBES
Your microbiota is the community of billions of microbes that live inside and on the surface of your body. The majority of these microbes live in your gastrointestinal tract.
2. BACTERIA CAN BE HARD TO GROW
Until recently, the vast majority of gut bacterial species were considered to be “unculturable” under laboratory conditions. With recent technological and microbiological advancements, we are now capable of growing a wide range of intestinal microbes.
3. YOUR MICROBIOME IS PERSONAL
While your diet, and more broadly your lifestyle, is a major driver of the composition of your microbiota, the effect of a specific diet on physiology differs from person to person, and is influenced by a combination of features.
4. YOUR MICROBIOME IS CRITICAL TO YOUR HEALTH
Your gut microbiome influences your health and wellbeing throughout your life. It helps you digesting food, communicate with your tissues, and produce metabolites that regulate your immune system.
5. PERTURBATION IN YOUR MICROBIOME CAN CAUSE DYSBIOSIS
Sometimes a stress can dramatically change the diversity and composition of your microbiome. This imbalance, or dysbiosis, can cause gut inflammation which may be a root cause of many non-communicable diseases.
6. DYSBIOSIS MAY LEAD TO NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
Microbial imbalance in your gut has been linked to a variety of conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
7. INDUSTRIALIZATION IMPACTS YOUR MICROBIOME
The gut microbiome of people living in urban centers around the world is distinct from the microbiome of rural populations. It harbors lower diversity, which is often linked to non-communicable diseases.
8. MICROBIAL BIODIVERSITY IS ENDANGERED
The consumption of processed food and the abusive use of antibiotics and sanitizers in industrialized areas are thought to contribute to the loss of bacterial diversity. As a result, some commensal microbes we have co-evolved with for millennia may soon go extinct.
9. REPRESENTATION BENEFITS EVERYONE
Historically, microbiome science was often limited to industrialized populations and this bias failed to capture the full diversity of the human microbiome. Better representation will improve microbiome research and help ensure all populations can benefit from scientific advances.
10. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW
By 2050, 70% of the human populations will live in urban centers. As more people move to industrialized lifestyles, their microbiomes are expected to shift in composition and to decrease in diversity. These rapid changes may contribute to an increase in both microbiome dysbiosis and non-communicable diseases.
WE CAN COUNTERACT THIS ONGOING LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY
The loss of the human-associated microbial diversity is concerning as we, microbiome researchers, are only just beginning to understand how vital these microorganisms are for our health. We need to preserve these crucial bacterial species for future generations before it’s too late.
Since 2016, we at the Global Microbiome Conservancy (GMbC) have been collecting and preserving microbiomes from diverse human populations around the world, ranging from fully urbanized populations to highly isolated groups who have historically been overlooked by the scientific community.
By aiming to capture the full diversity of human gut microbiomes, we are promoting the inclusion of populations living non-industrialized lifestyles, such as rural farmers, pastoralists, fishermen, and hunter-gatherers. To date, fecal samples from more than 1,000 individual adults living in distinct regions across the globe have been collected.
The GMbC collection of bacterial cells – maintained as a secure public library – currently contains 16,000+ bacterial lineages, including dozens of human gut bacterial species that had never been successfully cultured before. The GMbC biobank will continuously maintained and updated to capture and reflect the full biodiversity of the human gut microbiome and preserve the unique microbial heritage of indigenous groups whose lifestyles are under threat from industrialization and urbanization.
By safeguarding this endangered biodiversity, we aim to advance our understanding of this critical facet of human health. By building this resource and making it available to scientists, we wish to advance microbiome research and ultimately human health worldwide.
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