For many laypeople, the science of “microbiology” is something they know little or nothing about. But this important discipline is responsible for some of the most advanced and useful medical innovations and insights of recent years. The strict definition of microbiology is simply the field of science that looks at micro-organisms, and how they can affect the body.
But this article will show that microbiology goes much further than that. Discoveries in this field are some of the most important to human health – and from gut health to brain health, they could well affect you even if you don’t know that they are. This article will delve into what microbiology is and how discoveries in the field could be about to revolutionize your life and your health.
For a long time, the way the human digestive system worked was something of a mystery – even to those who were experts in the then-burgeoning field of microbiology. Now, however, there has been a series of developments in this area – and an understanding of how the complex microbiological ecosystems which exist in the human stomach and elsewhere in the body is increasing.
One recent study from the Università di Trento found that the level of naturally occurring bacteria that live in the human stomach is actually decreasing – and that this could well be down to changes in the dominant types of foodstuffs consumed. Thousands of years ago, people in the western world had this bacteria – and many who live other than in the west still do to this very day. As more discoveries like this are made, then, it could well be the case that those who are facing problems such as obesity and diabetes will begin to find that they have a framework for understanding their gut health problems and eventually even overcoming them.
The way the human brain interacts with and uses bacteria has long since been a source of fascination, and Amy Yasko and other researchers have made it their career mission to develop their understanding of the phenomenon. It’s certainly the case that the human brain “communicates”, so to speak, with the bacteria in the rest of the body. According to some estimates, every gene in the human body has hundreds or even more “microbial genes” of their own – and these can cause major differences in the health outcomes for individual people.
Some of the latest developments in this field are of great interest. According to a study from Leigh Smith and Emily Wissel published in the influential Perspectives on Psychological Science, the human brain takes signals from bacteria – and these can be very influential. “Different bacteria can have drastically different functions, and therefore significantly different effects on their host,” they said in their study. “But differences in humans matter too. Our genes, health, and psychological states can all impact how our brains interpret the signals bacteria generate.”
The link between artificial intelligence and bacteria may seem to be somewhat weak, especially to the untrained eye. But just like any other scientific discipline, microbiology has had its fair share of artificial intelligence-related developments in recent years. According to biological engineers based at Duke University in North Carolina, it’s now possible to model the way that variables in a microbiological experiment behave alongside one another.
It was even found that the new AI-powered way of doing it could work tens of thousands of times more quickly than the traditional method, which is computer powered. For a layperson or a patient, this may not seem like a very concrete outcome. But the effects of this on health could be immense: by speeding up the process for monitoring the outcome of bacterial interaction, more research can be done in a more limited timeframe – meaning that, in theory, more society-wide health outcomes can be hit more quickly. And with the research from Duke able to be extrapolated to a wide range of other aspects of biology, the discoveries are highly transferable.
Microbiology, then, is one of the most cutting-edge fields out there – despite also being perhaps one of the most poorly understood when it comes to name recognition and acceptance among the general public in the US and beyond. It’s a discipline which can give people a new chance at life if they are suffering from any one of several health conditions, and as a result, it’s staffed with professionals who are intelligent, organized and devoted to the work. For a field that is so unrecognized in the wider world, it may come as something of a surprise to learn about the benefits that discoveries in this particular science can offer.