Last night we had guests who talked about why they studied molecular biology, and the remarkable possibilities bursting the top off the world of biology. Jefferson, Azzam and Low. Amazing, funny and insightful. Brilliant folk. We ate outdoors in our brick side yard under a sky without a moon, the bits of oak buring in the brazier of the weber grill. Grilled Thai lime and ginger chicken, warm homemade whole wheat bread, rosemary sauteed zucchini, basalmic vinegar red peppers, blanched green beans in a wasabi dressing. Most vegetables came from my garden, and we ate fresh strawberry pie for dessert. Sorry, I had to buy the berries because the slugs always eat mine.
What do you know about the microbiome? Fortunately I had seen this New York Times microbiome article so I had a clue what excited them so. We’re all pretty much used to the idea that the environments around us hold webs of life, with detritivores and carnivores and herbivores, procaryotes and eucaryotes, parasites and all the otes and vores and ites you care to name, right? So what about looking into the miniature complex world on your own skin, or in your own gut, or living happily among the roots of your hair? The idea is that we carry upon us as intricate a web of life as any the macro-world holds, and that the balances and successes of these tiny worlds, which might even be different when you compare what’s on the back of one hand to what’s on the back of your foot, might have a substantive effect upon your health. Of course when we talk about our ectoderms, that actually includes where that ectoderm is infolded to create the gut, so here my ears perk up and I start wondering what the micro-biome might mean, for example, to those among us who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. And that’s where the discussion really took off.
I’m not about to toss out Koch’s postulates though. I’m not going to blame my cold on an unhappy biome in my throat. I’m not a person who likes a single answer for my questions, I tend to have a prejudice that favors complexity. But the possiblities, the idea that indeed the world is so much with us, all the time and so complicated is wonderous. Makes me awed, which rhymes with odd, and very happy.