Researchers at Harvard Medical School have for the first time mapped the genes of the human microbiome. The study gives us a more precise idea of the microorganisms present in our body, fundamental for our health and yet often ignored.
The study starts from the bacteria that live in the mouth and intestine, the most relevant and simple to obtain. Scientists have analyzed its DNA, so as to understand its characteristics and functioning. From what emerged, more than half of these possess a unique genetic heritage for each individual. The bacteria that live inside us are therefore characterized by an enormous genetic diversity.
The discovery could help develop new personalized therapies that take into account the thing. This is the first genetic census of the human microbiome. Previous studies had focused only on the species of microorganisms present in our body. The study in question, on the other hand, highlights the genetic differences that can also occur between genes of the same type. Differences that could still have unclear consequences for our general health.
The data comes from 3,500 samples, 1,400 of the oral cavity and 2,100 of the intestine. The researchers identified 46 million genes in them, of which only 23 million shared by more people. The remaining 23 million change from individual to individual. According to the scientists, the former could be linked to basic functions for bacteria, while the others could be used in specific cases. Probably the latter depend largely on environmental factors and lifestyle.