Several pounds of microbes are living inside you right now, according to an international team of scientists that was determined to figure out this magic number
Scientists across the globe participated in the Human Microbiome Project to map out the trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, finding that microbes outnumber human cells 10 to 1. Photo: YouTube Tiny creatures like spidery bacteriophages and wormlike helminth parasites are crawling in or around your body right this very second.
For the first time ever scientists have cataloged the 10,000 or so species of microbes living in areas like your gut, and have made the results public through the exhaustive, multi-study Human Microbiome Project.
What did researchers do exactly? Countless germs and bacteria interact daily with the human body, whether they are inside our mouths or crawling on our skin, and researchers wanted to know exactly how many there are. Hundreds of scientists worldwide took part in the five-year, $173 million effort to catalog “the tiny critters that occupy every inch of the human body inside and out,” says Christopher Wanjek at LiveScience, by going through each of the body’s microbial “habitats” one at a time. Scientists claim to have finished mapping 99 percent of known organisms, which when tallied up all together amount to several pounds of bacteria living in any regular person (i.e. you). “When you think about it,” says George Dvorsky at io9, “we’re practically made out of microbes.”
Here’s what you should know about the international undertaking:
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