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Microbe Roundup

March 29, 2013

Fighting disease involves maintaining the healthy populations of microbes that live inside us.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

The zoo inside us. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Doctors are beginning to look at the human body as not so much a machine as a game preserve. We’re home to trillions of organisms, and our health depends on how those populations interact. Researchers at UC-Santa Cruz report that mice reacted completely differently to a bacterial infection depending on what bacteria were already living in their stomachs. They also report that maintaining good health is more complicated than just killing bad bacteria, because many of the bugs increase our risk of one disease, but protect us against another.

In other news, sourdough bread doesn’t get moldy as quickly as other bread. Now scientists know why: the lactobacillus bacteria that gives sourdough its distinctive flavor also produces powerful antifungal compounds. Researchers are looking into using the compounds to preserve other kinds of bread and cereals. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.