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Researchers Look Into Microbes That Exist on the Body

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(EMAILWIRE.COM, May 31, 2013 ) San Francisco, CA -- The human body hosts many microbes and small life forms, and that likely is little surprise to anyone over the age of seven. However, new survey work has found an interesting fact regarding the fungi that inhabit the differing areas of the body. The research is part of a larger attempt to better understand the many microbes that are part of the tapestry of the human body."This is the first study of our fungi, which are yeast and other molds that live on the human body," says , of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the survey.

There are literally trillions of individual life forms that are in and on the body. Many are viruses and bacterias that are in no way harmful to humans. Many of them are actually quite helpful to our existence and health; however, scientists are just now looking into exactly what these little guys actually do.

"A lot of medicine has to do with not just our own human cells but really [is] about how humans interact with the bacteria and fungi that live on our bodies," Segre says.

Both Segre and his team have taken samples from 14 separate patches of skin on 10 individual volunteers. "We did an exploration where we looked at all the different little crevices of your body," she says.

Fungal DNA was then sequenced to find the discoveries, which were published in the journal Nature.

"What we found was that the human body is an even more diverse ecosystem than we had known when we looked only at the bacterial communities," Segre says.

Researchers found over 80 types of microorganisms on the heel of volunteers. There are nearly 60 between the toes, and over 40 in the toenails. There are anywhere between a couple to a handful of fungi that are attributed to each are of the body.

So why the interest in the fungi, really? "The scale at which people are being exposed to antimicrobial drugs is really substantial," says infectious disease specialist , at New York University. "And it would be surprising if there were no consequences from that."

Heitman went on to state that afflictions such as skin cancer could find solutions in better understanding the synergistics involved in human/microbe relationships. "What if we were to find the microbes on the skin either increase or decrease the risk for skin cancer, for example? That might be very important information to have," Heitman says.

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