The White House has just launched a new scientific mission, a research program called The National Microbiome Initiative where scientists will go into a deeper analysis of the microbes shaping life on Earth.
This is part of a federal effort to eliminate and fight disease, safely grow food and, of course, contribute to the reduction of the greenhouse climate change effects.
The National Microbiome Initiative or “cross-ecosystem microbiome studies” program will be funded $121 million for what is left of this year and for the next year.
A variety of disciplines will come together to form the research for this program. This includes research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy.
The studies will come from human, animal, soil, water and air microbes.
Studies done so far show a number of approximately 10 trillion bacteria (amongst which are the typical yeast and fungi) live inside and on the skin of humans.
Bacteria has helped create and model life on the planet. Because of its activity we live and we can die and decay. It considerably affects our life and all life on Earth.
Scientists believe modern life may have negatively modified the balance of the ancient bacteria, leading to chronic disease such as obesity, diabetes, allergies, autism and so on.
The widespread use of antibiotics combined with our deficient diet has led to the death of good bacteria and the survival and stronger regrowth of harmful bacteria.
An effect of the abnormal use of antibiotics is the infection called C. difficile which is currently being experimentally treated with fecal transplants. In this procedure, stool from healthy individuals is being transferred to C. difficile infected person’s colon in an attempt to make good bacteria fight the one spreading the infection.
This is all still experimental, and the National Microbiome Initiative plans to conduct more of these studies to eventually develop more effective medicine, more fertile soils, even fight crime.
The need to map the microbes around us is evident, and the National Microbiome Initiative will help us “humans address some of the most pressing issues of our time,” says Martin Blaser, director of the Human Microbiome Program at Langone Medical Center of the New York University.
Image source: NIH