Friday, May 25, 2007

Human Bacterial Communities

There's a neat article in Science News Online covering recent research on the microbial communities inhabiting the body's major niches. It is becoming more and more apparent that your microbial community plays an important role in your health and well being. Currently the National Institutes of Health is pondering the question of whether to devote resources to a Human Microbiome Project, which would create a genetic inventory of the microbial communities inhabiting the body. Jonathan Eisen at the Tree of Life posted on the Human Microbiome earlier this year.


NIH Roadmap - The Human Microbiome Project approved!

Photo credit:

In the gastric mucosa of a patient with Helicobacter pylori infection and a precancerous lesion called "incomplete intestinal metaplasia" (Genta stain), the gastric cells lining a gland have been replaced by absorptive intestinal cells with visible brush border and goblet cells, which are normally present in the intestine, but not in the stomach. Goblet cells contain acidic mucins stained blue by Alcian blue. This type of precancerous transformation is caused by long-term infection with H. pylori, visible in the lumen of the gland as curved bacterial rods stained black by silver stain. A few bacteria invade the goblet cells and can be found within blood capillaries, where they bind to red blood cells (see Aspholm et al. 2006).

Light microscopy picture taken by C. Semino-Mora and A. Dubois using a Nikon Eclipse E800 Microscope and a QImaging MicroPublisher 5.0 RTV digital camera. Biopsy provided by V. Simko, Brooklyn VA Medical Center. Original magnification: 400x.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.0020121.g001