Our microbiome, defined as the microorganisms in a human body or a part of the body including the combined genetic material of the microorganisms themselves, is a central topic of study in recent years. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic living things are referred to as microorganisms, or microbes, for short. Trillions of these microbes exist mainly inside your intestines and on your skin.

An recent analysis of microbial genes in the human gut and oral microbiomes has yielded results suggesting that the collective microbiome may contain more genes than there are stars in the observable universe. Scientists in the United States and Canada have generated a catalog and searchable web resource detailing tens of millions of microbial genes identified through their first-sweep analysis of thousands of human samples. Their findings, reported in Cell Host & Microbe, suggest that the mouth and gut microbiomes comprise “staggering” microbial genetic diversity, and found that at least half of all the genes identified were unique to an individual.

The Harvard Medical School-led study represents only the start of efforts to analyze the genes contained in the entire human microbiome. Their results suggest that at least half of the genes are unique to each individual, and the apparent diversity is exceeding the researchers’ expectations. “Ours is a gateway study, the first step on a what will likely be a long journey toward understanding how differences in gene content drive microbial behavior and modify disease risk,” said Braden Tierney, a graduate student at Harvard Medical School. Tierney is first author of the researchers’ published paper, which is titled, “The Landscape of Genetic Content in the Gut and Oral Human Microbiome.”

This is yet another reason why, with ANY disease process, we must work towards the never-ending process of healing the GUT. See the below video for more information: