Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fungi thrive on a human hair

In a recent article in New Scientist LIFE,  Scientists from National Institute of Health (US), in the first study of fungal diversity on human skin - have sequenced fungi on the bodies of healthy adults. Up until now fungal cells have been neglected compared to the vast amount of bacteria - about 1 trillion living on each one of us! This outnumbers human cells 10:1.
The picture shows bacteria in pink and fungi in grey-blue - living on a human hair shaft.(Image: Alex Valm NHGRI)
Although fungi are less numerous on the skin than bacteria, their role in the body's ecosystem is unclear. Sequencing studies have shown the dominant fungal species on the human trunk and head to be Malassezia - which also can cause dandruff. The feet harbour a huge diversity of species including Aspergillus, Cryptococcus, Rhodotorula, and Epicoccum - some of these can be harmful when found inside us. The heel alone was found to have 80 genus level types of fungi.
It is hoped that the DNA sequencing of the body's fungi will help us to understand better the role of bacteria & fungi in our skin's complex ecosystem.

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