Talk:Human microbiome

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{{WPMED|class=C|importance=Mid}-- (talk) 07:26, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Title change to "Human microbiome"[edit]

It appears the name of this article has changed over time, and some are not happy with the current title of "human flora" because it excludes all the animals within us. The term "human microbiome" appears to be more accurate and gaining in usage. Here's a recent NYT article on the subject: How Microbes Defend and Define Us. (It uses simply "microbiome," but that refers to any community of microorganisms. "Human microbiome" is more precise and incorporated in the name of the Human Microbiome Project.) I suggest we change the title to "Human microbiome." Frappyjohn (talk) 01:54, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree about changing the name of the article. Since bacteria is not a plant, it is just non-sense calling it by micro flora or even flora. Then it is plausible changing it to Human Microbiome (or microbiota) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gustavo.leite (talkcontribs) 04:34, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

A title change, please.I am totally pro "Human microbiome" too. Flora is okay, but taxonomically old fashioned. The term "biome" appropriately emphasizes the ecological nature of current research in this area, plus we can refer to the Human Microbiome Project, which is organizing the research. Plus, I want mites and any other animals here, too. They belong here; I came here specifically to read about them. A search for "human flora" can bounce here. Eperotao (talk) 00:02, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Per the above, I have renamed (i.e. moved) the article from "Human flora" to "Human microbiome." I did a quick cleanup of the lead paragraph (but did I err in equating "microbiome" with microbiota"?). The second paragraph seems to stand as is as an explanation of why "microflora" is a misnomer. The rest of the article probably needs cleanup. I see its subheads all use "flora," for example. Frappyjohn (talk) 04:33, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Small change[edit]

I changed the location to where the link "lowered immunity" was pointing. Before it was an non-excisting article and I changed it to "Immune System". If you feel that the change was for the worst please feel free to change it back.

good/ bad[edit]

there is good and bad bacteria! what happens when you dont have the good bacteria and what should you do about it and what are or if any symptoms?

You can survive, but you may not digest food as well or get as much nutrition out of your food. "Bad" bacteria may take the opportunity to grow too much in your intestines. You may get diarrhea and feel sick. See a doctor if you think this is happening to you. There are supplements called probiotics that can replace the "good" bacteria in your gut. See the page on gut flora that has a lot more info on this. delldot | talk 20:10, 15 November 2005 (UTC)


The first line of the article says that most of the bacteria in/on the body perform "tasks that are useful or even essential to human survival". Can anyone verify this or cite a source? I wonder if I should maybe tag it with {{Fact}}? Thanks, delldot | talk 20:10, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Question on immune system and normal flora[edit]

I was curious why the body's immune system doesn't attack the normal flora and came here to try to find that. Could someone explain (and add to the article?) why this is the case? Thanks.

Well, none of those bugs are invasive. They don't destroy the gut wall and are therefore not tagged as "harmful" by the immune system. I'm not sure if this is the right page to discuss this phenomenon - it's a list. JFW | T@lk 20:56, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Normal flora is (generally) not pathogenic. There's no need to defend against them, so the body doesn't. We have a commensal relationship, such as breaking down food. Not mentioned in the article, because our skin is COVERED with bacteria, we have a living shield against many bacteria that may be pathogenic; normal flora protects us against other bacteria (or often fungi). We have simply learned that it is best not to kill our tiny friends. Eedo Bee 14:56, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Numbers wrong?[edit]

This article and the article on Gut Flora disagree on the (1) the number of human cells in the body and (2) the number of bacteria. This kind of disagreemtn is what frightens me about the Wikipedia. Can someone with the knowledge please correct. Goaty 02:46, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

This article was most likely wrong as it contradicts its source. I wonder what AxelBoldt was thinking by making the change without even explaining the edit. Put 1013 for the amount of cells and 1014 for the amount of bacteria back where they supposedly belong. 00:41, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

There should definitely be some sort of citation for those numbers of scale comparison (bacterial cell numbers vs. somatic cell numbers). I have read estimates of 10 trillion body cells in the average adult. 10,000,000,000,000 (1013) --Frenkmelk 01:56, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Some numbers in the section "Culturable and nonculturable bacteria" are confusing. The number of bacteria is given as 4 quadrillion, which is 4*10**15. The number of bacterial cells is given as 10**14. Please revise. --Rickhev1 (talk) 20:03, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

The numbers are still inconsistent: 10 trillion cells is mentioned here (no citation), 100 trillion is mentioned in Gut flora (no citation), and "between 50 and 75 trillion cells" is the statement in List of distinct cell types in the adult human body (you guessed it, no citation). (talk) 19:20, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes[edit]

These articles might be useful for this page: PMID 16033867, PMID 17183309, and PMID 17183312. Ninjatacoshell 19:26, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Name Change[edit]

The title "Bacteria in the human body" in lieu of "Normal Flora" is misleading, as not all normal flora is bacterial, just microbial. We have non-pathogenic levels of fungi and sometimes parasitic animals (nematodes) that are considered "Normal Flora". Appreciation of the basic differences between the Domains of life is a must. Eedo Bee 15:01, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

I would ask that a moderator change the name, this issue was posed a considerably long time ago (relatively). Normal Flora is the appropriate name. Eedo Bee 13:31, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Scientific research into the role of bacteria and Hunger[edit]

I don't have access to specific documents, just a hyper link to title and information numbers... Dynamics of intragastric bacteria plexus in early morning hunger. If someone who could use this url to find information that might be suitable to inclusion on this page, it might be interesting. the url is from a japanese researcher..just a thought though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kesuki (talkcontribs) 21:56, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

NAP book: Microbial Evolution and Co-Adaptation[edit]

Freely-available book on this topic released from the National Academies: II | (t - c) 17:30, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

some recent scientific papers[edit]

I don't have time now, but here are some recent refs, freely available as pdfs on the internet,that cover the topic of microflora in the skin and nose

Grice et al Science 29 may 2009 page 1190 Grice et al Genome Research 2008 page 1043 Dowd et al BMC Microbiology 6 march 2008 Gao et al Proceedings US national academy sciences Feb 20,2007 page 2927

Jousimies-somer et al Journal Clinical Microbiology dec 1989, page 2736

Larson et al Journal Clinical Microbiology, march 1986 page 604

one point these papers make is that different parts of the human skin are very different; to quote the grice 2009 paper "The skin is also an ecosystem, harboring [microbes] that live in a range of ...distinct niches. For example,hairy moist underarms lie a short distance from smooth dry forearms, but these two niches are likely as ..dissamilar as rainforest are to deserts"Cinnamon colbert (talk) 13:51, 21 July 2009 (UTC)


I think most scientists view the human microflora as consisting of "permament" residients - bacteria consistiently found, and transients, which can make up a lot of the total bacteriaCinnamon colbert (talk) 15:50, 23 July 2009 (UTC)File:Bold text-- (talk) 07:26, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

                                                                                                      -- (talk) 07:26, 21 October 2010 (UTC)Baliram singh

unit = %[edit]

"Range of Incidence" should read "Range of Incidence / %" to name the used unit. I do this edit. Helps non-native speakers as me. --Helium4 (talk) 06:27, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Merger from Bacterial flora[edit]

I propose that the article Bacterial flora should be merged into this article. Both articles cover the same subject, the human body flora. Having two articles on seems redundant to me. I believe that both articles contain information the other one could benefit from, however in my opinion the article Human microbiome is more extensive and cites more reliable sources. Nevertheless I believe there is a lot of content in Bacterial flora that this article could benefit from. --Shinryuu (talk) 01:36, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

The content of Bacterial flora belongs rightly to the subject covered here in Human microbiome, then Bacterial flora could redirect to Flora (microbiology) or be given its own page. Drlectin (talk) 13:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

I concur, and I support the merger. — James Estevez (talk) 21:31, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Support. I agree that the bacterial flora should be merged into this article, as this article is slightly broader in that it covers archaea and fungal flora as well. Ashleyleia (talk) 18:21, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Support. I agree that the content specific to the Human microbiome should be transferred here, but I believe the two pages should remain separate, as the two terms are not synonymous. I would, however, then support the merge/redirect of the remaining material at Bacterial flora to Flora (microbiology). AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 02:28, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Seemed like everyone was more or less on the same page, so I was bold and went ahead with the changes. Please let me know if you see any issues. AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 03:45, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Introduction - is misleading at best or more likely wrong[edit]

First line as of Aug 17/2013: "The human microbiome (or human microbiota) is the aggregate of microorganisms, a microbiome that resides on the surface and in deep layers of skin, in the saliva and oral mucosa, in the conjunctiva, and in the gastrointestinal tracts." This is wrong. The article itself goes on to talk about vaginal organisms. I also think it would be helpful to enumerate the types of bugs found, rather than repeating the same word in a single sentence as if that is going to help!! (microbiome). Obviously, somebody needs to EDIT this. Archea, Bacteria, Fungi (including yeast) are mentioned later, but how about viruses and algae (which I have read ARE part of our microbiome) and protozoa (which I have no knowledge of, yea or nay)? Multicellular or only single celled? rotifers? IDK. This article also fails full disclosure of the true meagerness of what we know (observed) compared to what is unknown. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and so, last I heard, for the most part we can not be confident where none exist. The brain, in our lungs, ears, eyes, nose, blood, nerves, urethra, vagina, etc. etc.?? I mention some of these even though I KNOW they are inhabited because the introduction implies a very limited number of habitats. I think this is grossly misleading. I also think the differentiation between a (micro) parasite and "normal flora" (and is a pathogen a parasite?) is unnecessary and confusing. (Not to mention differences between symbiotic vs commensal microorganisms.) Wouldn't, say, the TB bacteria be part of a CARRIER'S "normal flora" but using the arbitrary definition here NOT be part of it for a person with symptomatic TB? (Is there really a unambiguous meaning of "normal flora"?) How can you exclude pathogens and parasites? (I understand that the original title was something about flora, but so what?) Bottom line; this needs: 1. Improved, more general definition of where these critters are known to exist, and where they are KNOWN not to exist, with mention that the rest of body is a great unknown. 2. Improved definition of what types of organisms are included. 3. Explanation of parasites, pathogens, symbiotes, and commensal organisms in the context of this article on the human microbiome. Together with the rationale (if there is one) in separating out hostile species. What about enemies of our enemies...are they necessarily our friends? Context. (talk) 20:52, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

Commensalism or mutualism?[edit]

I'm wondering about describing (the various carbohydrate-digesting) gut bacteria as "commensal.” (Paragraph #5 under the Bacteria subtitle: "Many of the bacteria in the digestive tract, collectively referred to as the gut flora, are able to break down certain nutrients such as carbohydrates that humans otherwise could not digest. The majority of these commensal bacteria….") Since the bacteria also benefit by having a warm, nutrient rich environment, wouldn’t the relationship be defined as mutualism? ---- — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dfirak (talkcontribs) 04:13, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Link broken: Respiratory flora[edit]

Changed link to "Lung microbiome" ("Respiratory flora" was broken) feel free to reverse/delete altogether if not strictly correct, this could also need a reference to nasal microbiome too. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:16, 19 June 2014 (UTC)