10:1 or not?

A new preprint in BioRxiv.org has attempted to update the estimates of the ratio of human cells to bacterial cells in the human body

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Quite enjoyed this preprint and thought it was worth sharing for discussion. http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/01/06/036103 1.3 is their suggested new ratio, though they predict it would change with bowel movements. I particularly liked Figure 2, where the domination of erythrocytes and platelets is obvious in the human body. As was pointed out to me on Twitter though, if you limited the ratio to just those cells containing DNA, we might be back to something approaching 10:1 as neither of these two dominant human cell types have DNA.

Michael Cox

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Imperial College London

My background is in marine microbial ecology and biogeochemical cycles, but for the last 7 years I have been working on the microbial ecology of the human lung in health and disease. I primarily have expertise in DNA sequencing and culture based approaches.


Go to the profile of Ben Libberton
about 6 years ago
Interesting point about the DNA containing cell types, I hadn't thought of that. This is a really cool article that highlights the complexity of something that has been taken for granted for so many years.