John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Ten random things: Reader Request Month, day 39

Ten species of bacteria that have mutualistic or commensalistic relationships with humans or animals:

  1. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (assists in carbohydrate fermentation in the intestine)
  2. Lactobacillus acidophilus (help maintain a balance of intestinal microflora, promotes proper peristalsis)
  3. Bifidobacterium bifidum (enhances human immune system)
  4. Escherichia coli (secretes vitamin K and B-complex vitamins)
  5. Bifidobacterium longum (promotes regularity)
  6. Vibrio fischeri (emits light to help bobtail squid evade predators)
  7. Diplodinium polyplastron (ferments carbohydrates in ruminants)
  8. Photorhabdus luminescens (facilitates the life cycle of certain parasitic nematodes)
  9. Lactobacillus salivarius (helps break down undigested proteins)
  10. Methanobrevibacter ruminantium (promotes growth of other ruminal bacteria)

This list, which was requested by astrablue, was trickier to put together than I expected. It seems that people don't particularly care about non-pathogenic bacteria, so it was difficult to find mutualistic or commensalistic bacteria mentioned by name. Also, people tend to focus on the harmful effects of bacteria while ignoring the helpful. E. coli is a good example; if it gets into the urinary tract, or if you ingest it, you're probably going to get sick, but if it stays in the intestine like its supposed to, it's not just harmless, it's also helpful. And I have to assume that most of the other 400 species of bacteria that are found in the human gastrointestinal tract serve some useful purpose, even if no one wants to tell me what.

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