Science in the News is a student group at the Harvard Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences whose mission is to bridge the communication gap between scientists and non-scientists. This article highlights research from the Jessica Mark Welch lab at MBL.
By Sophia Swartz
Figures by Nicholas Lue
Your mouth isn’t too different from a city. Like a city, your mouth contains hundreds of different inhabitants and communities. However, these inhabitants are not humans or animals. Instead, your mouth contains hundreds of thousands of microbes.
Microbes are small organisms—like bacteria or fungi—that cannot be seen by the human eye. For example, 100 bacterial cells could attach to a single grain of salt. But with the help of a microscope, we can observe microbes in virtually any ecosystem on the planet, including the human mouth. And in the mouth, bacteria are the most common microbes to find.
Whenever you wake up in the morning with bad breath or scrape gunk off your tongue with your toothbrush, you are interacting with microbes. The group of microbes living in your mouth is called the human oral microbiome—or HOM, for short—and is a vibrant and diverse ecosystem, containing anywhere from 500 to 600 different microbial species. Read more …