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Human Microbiome Project


Lab of Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai


The microbiome as ecosystem

The hottest area in longevity study today is the microbiome and its uses in maintaining our metabolism, immune system, sleep cycles and even our mental and emotional health.

To take one example, the gardener’s feeling of “wondrous life,” to quote poet Andrew Marvell, has hard science to back it. The soil microbe mycobacterium vaccae stimulates the natural anti-depressant serotonin, improves cognitive function, and reduces inflammation. The effects of microbes on our health includes the evidence for the "hygiene hypothesis"-- that higher exposure to microbes helps protect us from depression, allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.

Globally, beyond our own longevity, microbes could produce food, inexpensive chemicals and energy, and reduce deforestation and waste. Yet the explosion of knowledge had only identified the genes of some .01% of the earth’s smallest creatures.  What is needed is more evidence to devise a plan to translate pure science into application.  Until then, here are some good terms and websites:

Important terms in healthful human longevity, genes and pathways

  • Apoptosis
  • Daf-2, Daf-1
  • FOXO3a
  • Sir2, SIRT1-7
  • TOR
  • AMP-kinase
  • Rapamycin
  • Mitochondria

Organizations and websites