Scientists have outlined a plan to build a Noah’s Ark of beneficial germs to preserve critical microbes found in the human body before it is too late.
The idea draws on a precedent set by Svalbard Global Seed vault in Norway, which houses nearly one million samples in effort to protect crop diversity in the event of a doomsday scenario becomes a reality.
The so-called “Global Macrobiotic Vault” would similarly collect beneficial microbes from populations that have maintained microbial diversity as the rest of the world loses theirs due to antibiotics, processed diets, and other aspects of urban society.
Researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick say that a doomsday vault could help us ensure humanity’s long-term health in the face of planet-wide loss of microbial diversity, which poses a threat on par with climate change.
There are Trillions of microbes living in the human body, many of which promote our wellbeing. But in urbanized parts of the world, microbial diversity has plummeted.
Most Americans, for example, have gut flora that is about half as diverse as that is seen in the people living in isolated Amazonian villages, the researchers say.
Without these microbes, humans could be at a greater risk of developing all sorts of health problems, such as obesity, asthma and allergies. According to the researchers, remote populations in Latin America and Africa currently have the greatest microbiota diversity.
By collecting beneficial microbes from these regions before they are lost due to urbanization, as in the rest of the world, it could be possible to preserve and reintroduce them in the future to prevent disease.
The researchers say the microbial samples will be stored in a neutral and politically stable place”.
Source: Daily Mail