Thursday, April 08, 2010

You Are What You Eat

Bacteria are living, by the trillions, in your gut;
There's an ecosystem hidden in your skin
It's a case of symbiosis, if an icky one, somewhat,
Where both human and bacteria can win.

They help us with digestion (as they mostly help themselves)
Through their enzymatic breakdown of our food.
For the source of these bacteria, some current research delves,
And they're finding it in seaweed (raw, not stewed).

It's a horizontal transfer, from bacteria on seaweed
To bacteria already in your "zoo",
Of the genes that code for enzymes-so the scientists said "Gee, we'd
Like to see if it's in other people, too!"

But on close examination of a sample from Missouri
Not a single one had enzymes such as these!
Still the study will examine many further groups--don't worry--
From societies with diets from the seas.

And this fascinating finding shows us how to take a look
At some questions that are really really neat:
We may change ourselves, depending on the food we choose to cook,
And we are (through enzyme transfer) what we eat!

BBC story here, and Ed Yong's (far more interesting) one here.

Hmmm... on second reading of my verse, it sounds as if I am saying that *all* of these bacteria must come from seaweed. I think I need another verse...

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