Mattheos Koffas (left), a biochemical engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Andrew Jones, a graduate student in his lab, with a flask of microbe-produced antioxidants. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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Many artisan cheese producers never pasteurize their milk – it's raw. The milk's natural microbial community is still in there. This microbial festival gives cheese variety and intrigues scientists. iStockphoto hide caption

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The Bronx may be up and the Battery down, but Central Park is where an amazing wealth of different sorts of microbes play. iStockphoto hide caption

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Rugby and meat: a treat for the gut? A study suggests yes. Here Tony Woodcock (left) and Owen Franks of the All Blacks rugby team turn sausages on the barbecue in 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Phil Walter/Getty Images hide caption

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Doctors used a rapid DNA test to identify a Wisconsin teen's unusual infection with Leptospira bacteria (yellow), which are common in the tropics. CDC/Rob Weyant hide caption

itoggle caption CDC/Rob Weyant

Even some euro bank notes may need a good scrubbing. Like dollar bills, these notes are made from cotton and they harbor an array of bacteria. Thomas Leuthard/The Preiser Project/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Thomas Leuthard/The Preiser Project/Flickr

Botulism bacteria, or Clostridium botulinum, grow in poorly preserved canned foods, especially meat and fish. The microbe's toxin could be lethal as a bioweapon. Dr. Phil Luton/Science Photo Library/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Dr. Phil Luton/Science Photo Library/Corbis

In some human diseases, the wrong mix of bacteria seems to be the trouble. Getty Images hide caption

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Illustration by Benjamin Arthur for NPR

He's not just getting a cold. He's building his microbiome. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Say hello to your microbiome, Rob Stein. Our intrepid correspondent decided to get his gut bacteria analyzed. Now he's wondering if he needs to eat more garlic and onions. Morgan Walker/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Morgan Walker/NPR

We may not see them, but we need them. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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The tale of the tape may be told, in part, by the microbes inside you. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Streptococcus bacteria, like this strain, can be found in our guts. Janice Haney Carr/CDC Public Health Image Library hide caption

itoggle caption Janice Haney Carr/CDC Public Health Image Library

Fungi (cyan) surround a human hair within the skin. A study in the journal Nature shows the population of fungi on human skin is more diverse that previously thought. Alex Valm, Ph.D. hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Valm, Ph.D.

Yeast affects several aspects of beer including the foam, or head, that forms on the of the glass. If fermentation is too vigorous, too many of the foam-stabilizing proteins may be lost. Cate Gillon/Getty Images hide caption

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Twins in Malawi helped scientists discover a role the gut microbiome appears to play in severe malnutrition. Photograph courtesy of Tanya Yatsunenko hide caption

itoggle caption Photograph courtesy of Tanya Yatsunenko