|Geschrieben von Alba am 12.10.2016, 10:58 Uhr
Re: aber noch eine Frage dazu....
Hier, habe es gefunden. Hoerte sich sehr interessant an, fand ich.
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong
Reviewed by Michael Prodger
August 20 2016, 12:01am, The Times
The next time you raise a forkful of food to your lips, pause for a moment and consider that what you are about to put into your mouth is not just a delicious twirl of, say, pappardelle con funghi but a pullulating mass of microbes, 1 million of them for every gram of food. That is about 56 million minute living organisms in your bowl of pasta — more than enough to put you off your meal.
It is, though, one of the many merits of the science writer Ed Yong’s fascinating and lively study of microbes that by the time you have read the last page you’ll swallow that forkful with relish rather than disgust.
Yong is at pains to point out that in our hygiene-obsessed times we have developed an unhealthy view of microbes. We see them as invisible villains, lurking within and around us, harbouring disease and forever on the lookout for the opportunity to do us ill. And so we wage war on them with antiseptics and antibiotics. While certain yoghurt manufacturers would have us believe in “good bacteria” and encourage the consumer to pay through the nose to swallow small pots of the probiotic stuff, there is no evidence that they have anything other than extremely limited health value. Indeed the word “probiotic”, with its implications of (unproven) health benefits, has been banned from advertising and packaging within the EU.
Each human being, animal and plant has an individual microbe colony called a microbiome. We are, says Yong, like a planet composed of separate zones — rainforests, deserts, coral reefs, icecaps — and each has its own specific group of microbes.
There are those that live only in the stomach, the mouth or the armpit and by and large they do so peacefully. Just as a weed is really only a plant in the wrong place, so “bad” microbes are just microbes out of context; one that can sit contentedly in the human gut (where there are more microbes than there are stars in the galaxy) doing no harm can become deadly if it finds its way into the bloodstream.
An unglamorous world where lab mice, insects and stool samples are the stars
This book is in many ways a plea for microbial tolerance. While there are 100 types of pathogens that cause disease, there are thousands that don’t; so there is, says Yong, no such thing as a “good” or “bad” microbe.
What then do these millions of organisms do? The answer is pretty much everything. They protect us from disease, shape our organs, remodel our skeletons, break down our food, guide our behaviour and calibrate our immune system.
In the wider world photosynthetic bacteria in the seas produce 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen and define where coral reefs can form. Microbes enrich the soil, break down pollutants and convert elements such as carbon, sulphur and nitrogen into forms that can be used by animals and plants. Take microbes away and while infectious diseases would disappear it wouldn’t much matter because the food chain would collapse and mass extinction would follow; organisms “could exist but probably wouldn’t persist”.
The first man to see these extraordinarily potent creatures was a Delft lens-maker called Antony van Leeuwenhoek in the 1670s. Using microscopes of his own design that could magnify up to 270 times he examined a drop of water from a nearby lake and found it teeming with tiny creatures he called “animalcules”, whose motion “was so swift, and so various upwards, downwards and round about that ’twas wonderful to see”.
In the course of his research Yong spent time with the scientists who are still trying to understand the full role and implications of the hidden realm Van Leeuwenhoek discovered. It means the reader must be prepared for a decidedly unglamorous world where lab mice, insects and stool samples are the stars. His case studies take in a fungus that is wiping out entire populations of frogs and that can be halted by a rare microbial bacterium; squid that carry luminescent bacteria that enable them to escape predators; wasps that use a microbial secretion to protect their young from infection in their cocoons; and even the efficacy of transplanting the faecal microbes of a healthy person into the stomach of someone suffering from the bowel disease C difficile — what amounts to a stomach transplant without the need for surgery.
This is not a book for the squeamish. However, overcome one’s distaste for some of the investigations (microbiologists are instinctively scatological, obsessed with droppings human and animal) and the reasons for Yong’s proselytising enthusiasm become clear.
The microbial world is, as Van Leeuwenhoek said, a place of wonder. Here genes are swapped between organisms; partnerships are formed between microbes and their hosts to the benefit of both (but not always); and biomes “change with a touch, a meal . . . or the passage of time”. Our ability to manipulate microbes means that future buildings will have useful microbes built into their fabric to fight off infections (imagine a neonatal unit coated in a specially mixed cocktail so that babies get the best microbial start in life), while already mosquitoes are being loaded with a bacterium that blocks dengue fever, in an attempt to stop them spreading a disease that infects 400 million people a year.
Not every reader will end up like Yong, who is so besotted with microbes that he rather unnervingly sees “people walking down the street, ejecting clouds of themselves in their wake”, but they should end up with a new respect for the previously disdained organisms and hopefully go a little easier with the antiseptics.
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong, Bodley Head, 354pp, £20
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