All Life is Microbial
Why is All Life is Microbial?
About two decades ago, the technological revolution of high-throughput sequencing made the previously invisible finally visible and uncovered a whole new biological world: Researchers began to realize that living beings only exist in functional symbioses with a multitude of microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that colonize the bodies of their multicellular hosts. All animals and plants including humans are therefore metaorganisms. This discovery rendered a whole set of concepts and disciplines obsolete and paved the way for a new interpretation of the biological world: The metaorganism concept that defines all living beings as ecosystems consisting of a multicellular host and colonizing microorganisms living in an on it. Find out how our experts answer this fundamental question: Is all life microbial?
Microbes and hosts form functional units that have co-evolved over evolutionary time, shaping a metaorganism that controls functions and health of the entire organism. This whole new biological concept has immense implications for our understanding of how most biological processes altogether work. Is the immune system only a defence against pathogens or is it mainly a regulator that keeps our microbial colonization in balance? What happens if the microbial ecosystems in our bodies are disturbed and how is this related to the onset of disease? If the human body is made up roughly half of human cells while the other half is microbial and even neurons are influenced by microbes – what does this mean for the concept of the human individual self as an autonomous unit? To address these and many other questions, scientist have yet to fully grasp the mechanisms of host-microbe interactions: How do they communicate and what are the consequences of these interactions? In their answers our international experts explain how they would define the significance of this new concept and how their research tackles the functional analyses of host-microbe interactions.