This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday January 4, 2016

A round-up of what we read - and listened to - last week in the media's coverage of biofilms and microbiomes research.

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Well in time with the National Birth Defects Prevention Month, John Wiley & Sons published a special issue of Birth Defects Research Part C Embryo Today. The issue titled The Microbiome and Childhood Diseases is a collection of ground breaking microbiota reviews. Researchers at University Hospital (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, review importance of microorganisms that exist in the gut, suggesting perturbation of the environment during pregnancy, delivery and early infancy could impact the developing baby’s early microbiome and set the stage for health problems later in life. One of the particularly noteworthy reviews highlighted by Medical News Today, BioScience Technology, The Times, International Business Times and several other media sources presents evidence against popular notions that development of microbiota starts at birth and the womb is a sterile environment. “This means that the microbiota of the child are already developing in utero and not only do we have to consider the microbiome of the child but also that of the mother, and the irony is that some of our modern medical practices, through their effect on these early microbiota, could have unintended consequences, interfering with normal development of children's immune, metabolic, and neurologic systems," said Sharon Meropol, MD, PhD, Associate Director for Research and Evaluation at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital's Center for Child Health and Policy.

Another study which throws light on improving the gut bacteria health was published in Immunology and Cell Biology. This paper, picked up by The Denver Channel, GEN News and Science Daily, reports that exercise initiated in early life increases gut bacterial species involved in promoting psychological and metabolic health. Shortly after birth, bacteria take up residence within an infant's intestinal tract to not only aid digestion, but to assist in the development of the immune system and various neural functions. Interestingly, these microbes can add as many five million genes to an individual’s overall genetic profile—exerting tremendous power to influence aspects of human physiology. The investigators' results describe a scenario with a window of opportunity during early human development for optimizing the chances of better lifelong health.

We’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this week. Please comment below.

Richa Dandona

Partnerships and Operations Manager, Nature Partner Journals, Nature Research