Unseen Crisis: Threatened Gut Microbiome Also Offers Hope | Mongabay

Bacterial biofilm from a human tongue. Each colored dot is a bacterial cell. Credit: Cathy Shufro (Logan Science Journalism Fellow) and Jessica Mark Welch

Scientists, policymakers and the public are becoming increasingly aware that biodiversity loss, climate change, deforestation and pollution are causing profound disruptions to Earth’s ecosystems.

But every animal and plant that makes up these ecosystems could also be considered a diverse ecosystem in their own right, with each providing a home to a little-explored, invisible community of microbes — living both on, and inside every individual — known as the microbiome.

Today, as microbiome research extends beyond biomedical applications into conservation and ecology, scientists are finding unseen wonders, but also something disturbing: This microscopic world is gravely threatened by human activities.

Scientists are beginning to map a micro-biodiversity crisis unfolding in the guts of humans and animals that only biodiversity-enhancing solutions can solve. They’re also finding that these microorganisms are having an outsized influence on us as well, and that macro and micro worlds depend on each other for health. Read rest of story.