Being alone may be the central anxiety of our time but, as it turns out, you are never really alone — at least in a biological sense: Every single cell of you — that is, every cell made of human DNA — is kept company by ten cells of microbes that call your body home. And because microbes are single-celled organisms that each carry their own DNA, the difference is even starker in genetic terms — you carry approximately twenty thousand human genes and two to twenty million microbial ones, which makes you 99% microbe. What’s more, although you and I are 99.99% identical in our human DNA, we are vastly different in our individual microbiomes — you have only one in ten of my microbes. Even more striking than the sheer number of these silent and invisible cohabitants is their power over what we consider our human experience — they influence everything from our energy level to how we handle illness to our moods to how tasty we are to mosquitoes. [continue]
From csmonitor.com: New study captures stunning diversity of ocean microbes.
The sunlit upper layer of the world’s oceans is teeming with tiny creatures that seem to have jumped off the pages of a Dr. Seuss tale, with exquisite see-through bodies, bulging eyes and an array of glowing colors. These mysterious sea characters may form the bulk of ocean life, new data from a three-year voyage suggests. [continue].
Well. Does that make you more or less likely to swim in the sea? Anyway, you’ll want to go see the photo.
From the International Herald Tribune: Microbes eating away at pieces of history.
At Angkor Wat, the dancers’ feet are crumbling.
The palatial 12th-century Hindu temple, shrouded in the jungles of Cambodia, has played host to a thriving community of cyanobacteria ever since unsightly lichens were cleaned off its walls nearly 20 years ago. The microbes have not been good guests.
These bacteria (Gloeocapsa) not only stain the stone black, they also increase the water absorbed by the shale in morning monsoon rains and the heat absorbed when the sun comes out. The result, says Thomas Warscheid, a geomicrobiologist based in Germany, is a daily expansion and contraction cycle that cracks the temple’s facade and its internal structure. Warscheid, who has studied Angkor Wat for more than a decade, said in an interview that these pendulum swings had broken away parts of celestial dancer sculptures on the temple walls.
"It is getting worse — up to 60 or 70 percent of the temple is black," he added.
Once chalked up to weathering, the damage at Angkor Wat is now seen as [continue]