Tara Smith posted Entry 1917 on January 17, 2006 12:57 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1912

…be prepared to take some disinfectants along for the ride.

One thing that is a total geek-out for me is reading about ecology. It’s one of the areas I wish I’d taken more coursework on back in college. At the time, it didn’t much interest me–studying species interactions was boring, and molecular biology was much more interesting. I’ve pretty much flipped 180 degrees on that one. (Well, molecular biology isn’t boring, but it’s moved off its rung as a top interest). My main interest as far as ecology is concerned is microbial ecology–especially of the ecosystem we like to call human beings. I’ve discussed bacterial ecology a bit previously (see here, here, and here, for instance), and a new study is once again making us reconsider what we know about our own personal microbial flora.

A new study published in PNAS examined microbial diversity in an unusual place–the human stomach. Though it’s now accepted that bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori can live in the stomach (and cause ulcers), the image of the stomach is still a pretty sterile place: too hostile to harbor much bacterial diversity.

Well, maybe not.

(Continue reading at Aetiology)

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #73028

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 17, 2006 7:23 PM (e)

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww.

(pushes dinner aside)

;)

Comment #73032

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on January 17, 2006 7:28 PM (e)

That’s okay.

We get paid upon delivery, not consumption.

Comment #73055

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 17, 2006 8:12 PM (e)

LOL ;)

Comment #73064

Posted by jim on January 17, 2006 8:28 PM (e)

Tara,

Thanks!

Has anyone proposed testing some of these strains of bacteria in laboratory environments similar to the stomach?

How about similar tests on critters that eat carrion for a living. It be interesting to learn how/why they’re able to ingest much more bacteria and still not get sick.

Comment #73076

Posted by natural cynic on January 17, 2006 9:20 PM (e)

I don’t know about the inner workings, but the reduction of skin bacteria is apparently the reason buzzards have bald heads.

Comment #73089

Posted by Henry J on January 17, 2006 10:27 PM (e)

Re #73028-73032

ROFL

Henry

Comment #73118

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 18, 2006 1:46 AM (e)

I don’t know about the inner workings, but the reduction of skin bacteria is apparently the reason buzzards have bald heads.

Buzzards (genus Buteo) have feathered heads. Vultures often have bald heads.

Comment #73251

Posted by keiths on January 18, 2006 3:28 PM (e)

jim wrote:

How about similar tests on critters that eat carrion for a living. It be interesting to learn how/why they’re able to ingest much more bacteria and still not get sick.

See this paper:
http://www.scielo.br/pdf/bjm/v34n3/v34n3a07.pdf

I looked around the Web for info on the pH of bird stomachs. One page reported an amazing 0.2 pH for the stomach of an unspecified species. Another said the avian pH range was typically 0.7-2.3.

I was surprised to find that carrion eaters don’t necessarily have the lowest pH numbers. Speed of digestion is also important for birds (a shrike can digest a mouse in 3 hours) and acidity helps.