People Have More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells

Posted on December 3, 2007  Comments (4)

Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones

All the bacteria living inside you would fill a half-gallon jug; there are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells

The infestation begins at birth: Babies ingest mouthfuls of bacteria during birthing and pick up plenty more from their mother’s skin and milk—during breast-feeding, the mammary glands become colonized with bacteria. “Our interaction with our mother is the biggest burst of microbes that we get,”

there are estimated to be more than 500 species living at any one time in an adult intestine, the majority belong to two phyla, the Firmicutes (which include Streptococcus, Clostridium and Staphylococcus), and the Bacteroidetes (which include Flavobacterium).

probiotics – dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial microbes – have been shown to boost immunity. Not only do gut bacteria “help protect against other disease-causing bacteria that might come from your food and water,” Huffnagle says, “they truly represent another arm of the immune system.”

But the bacterial body has made another contribution to our humanity – genes. Soon after the Human Genome Project published its preliminary results in 2001, a group of scientists announced that a handful of human genes – the consensus today is around 40 – appear to be bacterial in origin.

How cool is science? Very, I think 🙂

Related: Tracking the Ecosystem Within UsBeneficial BacteriaEnergy Efficiency of DigestionLarge Number of Bacteria on our SkinWhere Bacteria Get Their GenesAmazing Science: Retroviruses

4 Responses to “People Have More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells”

  1. CuriousCat: Bacteria Evolutionary Shift Seen in the Lab
    June 9th, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

    “sometime around the 31,500th generation, something dramatic happened in just one of the populations – the bacteria suddenly acquired the ability to metabolise citrate, a second nutrient in their culture medium that E. coli normally cannot use…”

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Foreign Cells Outnumber Human Cells in Our Bodies
    September 28th, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

    […] is one of those area I find very interesting: People Have More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells. Colin Nickerson has written an interesting article on the topic: Of microbes and men Scientists […]

  3. Curious Cat Science Blog » Microbes Flourish In Healthy People
    January 15th, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    “The human body has some 10 trillion human cells—but 10 times that number of microbial cells. So what happens when such an important part of our bodies goes missing?…”

  4. Human Gene Origins: 37% Bacterial, 35% Animal, 28% Eukaryotic » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    February 17th, 2013 @ 2:19 am

    […] People’s Bodies Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells – Microbes Flourish In Healthy People – Tracking the Ecosystem Within Us – […]

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