Body's Hardworking Microbes Get Some Overdue Respect

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Science  17 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6011, pp. 1619
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6011.1619

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This past decade has seen a shift in how we see the microbes and viruses in and on our bodies. There is increasing acceptance that they are us, and for good reason. Nine in 10 of the cells in the body are microbial. In the gut alone, as many as 1000 species bring to the body 100 times as many genes as our own DNA carries. A few microbes make us sick, but most are commensal and just call the human body home. Collectively, they are known as the human microbiome. Likewise, some viruses take up residence in the body, creating a virome whose influence on health and disease is just beginning to be studied.