Understanding the microbiome is the ‘next frontier in medicine’

Most of the trillions of bacteria and other organisms that live in and on our bodies — our microbiome — are in our intestinal tract, “where they are capable of influencing virtually every aspect of our health,” writes Rene Ebersole in FERN’s latest piece, published with Cooking Light. No paywall

Scientists study microbiome of sourdough bread starters

More than 500 people from the U.S. to Thailand have sent their sourdough bread starters to be analyzed by microbiologist as part of the Sourdough Project, led by biologist Rob Dunn at North Carolina State University. “The project is trying to answer many questions,” says NPR. “How does a starter's microbial ecosystem vary with different flours? How does a new starter compare with one that's 200 years old, filled with tradition and lore? Do they change with geography, as some claim? And, of course, how can you bake a more delicious loaf?”

Suffer from asthma? Try hanging around Amish barns.

Amish children owe their extremely low rate of asthma to living and playing around barnyard animals, says a study out by the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the New York Times, researchers were so impressed with their findings that they suggested formulating a spray for children who don’t have livestock at home.

White House announces $500 million for microbiome research

Private sector groups joined the Obama administration in pledging $500 million for "the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems." Microbiomes, communities of micro-organisms that live on or in people, plants, soil, oceans and the atmosphere, maintain healthy functioning of diverse ecosystems and influence human health, climate change and food security, said the White House science office.