Knight (left) and Bucheli take soil samples from beneath one of the decomposing bodies.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
September 23, 2013 Long after we die, many of the microscopic creatures living in and on us continue to thrive. In field experiments, forensic scientists are tracking changes in communities of microbes on human remains that could one day serve as clues.
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Most of us prefer drinking fermented beverages, not producing them in our gut.
September 17, 2013 A Texas man walked into the emergency room, complaining of dizziness after a meal. A Breathalyzer test indicated that he was definitely drunk. But there was one hitch: He hadn't touched alcohol all day.
Billie Iverson, 86, of Cranston, R.I., recently underwent a transplant of intestinal microbes that likely saved her life.
Ryan T. Conaty for NPR
September 9, 2013 When an especially nasty intestinal bug threatened 86-year-old Billie Iverson, an unusual transplant saved her. The medical solution, still experimental, was to replace her dangerous digestive bacteria with a healthier mix of microbes.
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We may not see them, but we need them.
September 9, 2013 Trillions of microbes live on and in the human body, tucked into very different ecosystems. Some like the dark, warm confines of the mouth. Others prefer the desert-dry skin of the forearm. The biggest and most active collection of microbes hangs out in the gut.
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Dreaming of slimming gut microbes?
September 5, 2013 Mice that got microbe transplants from obese humans gained more weight and accumulated more fat than mice that received microbes from lean humans. The findings, though preliminary, suggest a future path for obesity treatment.
The tale of the tape may be told, in part, by the microbes inside you.
August 28, 2013 Lean people tend to have many more kinds of intestinal bacteria than obese people. Having too few species, regardless of your weight, appears to increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
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It's busy down there: a gut bacterium splits into two, becoming two new cells.
Centre For Infections/Science Photo Library/Corbis
July 22, 2013 Scientists are investigating the microscopic world that lives in and on our bodies. It's becoming clear that these tiny companions play a much more complex and important role in human health than thought. But we don't yet know enough about the microbiome to use it to prevent and treat disease.
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Streptococcus bacteria, like this strain, can be found in our guts.
Janice Haney Carr/CDC Public Health Image Library
July 4, 2013 An experimental "gut check" test can tell us more about the bacteria that live inside us. By studying the way the microbial populations change over time, researchers think they may have a new tool for monitoring health.
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Bad bug: The bacterium Clostridium difficile kills 14,000 people in the United States each year.
June 18, 2013 Fecal transplants are being used more often to treat life-threatening bacterial infections. But the Food and Drug Administration worried that the still-experimental procedure put patients at risk. Now it is dropping plans to restrict transplants after doctors and patients complained.
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.
May 22, 2013 While studying microorganisms on humans is not new, tracking fungi is. In a census of sorts, scientists checked the skin of healthy volunteers. They found an expansive ecosystem of silent inhabitants.
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Sucking may be one of the most beneficial ways to clean a baby's dirty pacifier, a study found
May 6, 2013 Instead of rinsing off the pacifier when it falls out of your baby's mouth, new research suggests that sucking it clean for them could help keep them from developing eczema and asthma. Researchers say the harmless bacteria in parents' saliva works by stimulating the babies' immune system.
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April 24, 2013 When gut microbes break down certain foods like red meat and eggs, they produce a compound tied to risks for heart attack, stroke and death, a study found. The research could lead to new ways to prevent heart disease by shifting the mix of gut bacteria.
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Mango Doucleff is always ready with a germ-laden slurp for her owner's face and ears.
April 18, 2013 Dog owners have similar germs growing on their skin: a signature blend of bacteria from canines' tongues and paws. Scientists couldn't find an analogous signature for cat owners. Perhaps cats are just being selfish.
You call it salad. The bacteria call it home.
March 28, 2013 Salad is not just a food; it's home to a flourishing community of mostly benign microbes. A new inventory finds surprising differences in the bacteria growing on popular fruits and vegetables.
This skull may have better teeth than you.
February 24, 2013 By examining ancient dental plaque, researchers have concluded that prehistoric humans' diets made for healthier mouths. The addition of flour and sugar to modern diets may have set the stage for a near-constant state of oral disease.
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