There are more genes in the human microbiome than stars in the universe

At the beginning of the 1920s, humanity already has the appropriate technologies that finally allow us to start a historic project of cataloging all genes in our microbiome.

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center intend to create Noah’s Ark of all genes found in organisms of nearly 8 billion people inhabiting our beautiful planet. It should be emphasized that each of us has different genes that are responsible for various functions. This task will not be easy to implement, but scientists have the tools, time and enthusiasm for work, because it comes to learning one of the greatest secrets hidden by our bodies.

“We are facing a growing global health crisis that requires us to capture and preserve the diversity of human microflora while it still exists. These microorganisms have evolved together with people over hundreds of thousands of years. They help us digest food, strengthen our immune systems and protect against germs attacks, “said Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, professor of biochemistry at Rutgers University.

This valuable knowledge will allow the medicine of the future to create much more effective specifics for the most dangerous diseases and treat each person individually. The goal is ambitious. By 2050, the World Health Organization wants to eliminate all the most dangerous diseases and genetic defects that have plagued humanity since the dawn of time. That is why the project implemented by scientists from the Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center is so important.

The first part of the research carried out surprised the scientists very much. It turns out that as many as 46 million genes were found in samples taken from just 3500 people. This is because bacteria have the ability to quickly evolve their DNA in response to the environmental conditions in which they function. Each inhabitant of the Earth has in his body a completely different microbiome, and it is he who is responsible for our well-being, individual assimilation of food and resistance to attacks of bacteria and viruses.

Scientists intend to continue their research and periodically publish the results of their work. Interestingly, this is not the only historical and large-scale project related to learning the secrets of genomes. A global DNA bank for all living organisms has been created for some time in the US. Biologists expect to discover the greatest secrets of evolution and accelerate research into technologies used in veterinary and agriculture. One of the main goals is to better protect animals against human degradation activities.

The Earth BioGenome project will last for at least a decade and its implementation will consume about 4.7 billion dollars, but within that time the genomes of all organisms made of cells, namely having a nucleus containing genetic material and separated by a nuclear membrane from the cytoplasm will be archived. It is estimated that the collected data will occupy about 200 petabytes in the virtual space of the global network tech guides best. This task will not be easy, because there are nearly 10 million such creatures on our planet.


Updated: August 20, 2019 — 7:08 pm