I struggled to keep my legs in the air with my toes pointing towards what I thought was the faint outline of the Southern Cross rising in the evening sky. With my hands under my hips — and butt perched against a large rock for support — I peddled an imaginary upside down bicycle in the air to pass the time as I struggled to make sure my new gut ecosystem stayed put inside me.
In a timely discussion, Dominguez-Bello and others foretell of a future where mining the microbial richness of native peoples is probable, but must be undertaken with the highest ethical standards and with specific consideration to the native cultures with regards to equitable outcomes that may result from commercialization.
But as researchers contemplate and ply the translational potential of often extraordinarily diverse hunter-gatherer microbiomes in the context of important ethical considerations, we should be careful not to miss the trees for the microbes.
By this I mean the regional microbial species pool that is the source of the rich microbial diversity that draws us to minimally impacted cultures in the first place. As discussed in a post last weekworking amongst the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania for the last few years has brought front and center the intimate — and seasonal — relationship humans evolved microbes on the landscape.
With each animal killed, microbes are given the opportunity to move from one species to the next — so long as they can find a suitable niche.
With each berry that is plucked from a bush or tuber dug from beneath the microbial-rich ground, each and every act of a foragers lifestyle keeps the Hadza — and presumably our common hominid ancestors — connected to an extensive regional species pool.
While much is made of diet, antibiotics and niceties of the developed world as environmental filters species sorting resulting in our degraded western microbiomes, we need not forget how closely linked microbial richness in native peoples is embedded in the integrity of the biological systems they inhabit.
In the absence of protecting the microbiota of the Hadza and other remote groups through legislation similar to the U. Endangered Species Act or international frameworks such as that provided by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — which is an argument that could and should be made — perhaps bio-banking in the form of larger biomass poo collection during fieldwork to go with extensive environmental sampling that should be the foundation of all future work among native peoples might be considered.
Going beyond the swab would place missing microbes in the western gut firmly in the wheelhouse of ecological theory and the ongoing ecological calamity that is the modern world.
For native peoples, a more broad ecological approach by researchers to understanding their local microbial diversity might provide another arrow in the quiver in their struggle to protect their lands and way of life.
Please consider a small donation to support our efforts — every penny counts and is tax-deductible! Click Here Dominguez-Bello, M. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, Chimpanzee is a medium-size ape with an expressive face, a small nose, a big mouth, and large ears.
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January 21, What a wonderful, heartfelt story of Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia. A facebook friend forwarded it to be because she said the photo looked exactly like our “home place” in Grafton, WV. That seems different, though, because it requires rejecting one ideology/ingroup, namely Catholicism.
It makes sense that people identifying as Catholic would resent that the Protestants found a way to weaken Catholicism, and apparently people who “took the soup” were ostracized.
This is a book about genetic dating and the role it has played in helping to shed light on human evolution.
Most folks who are familiar with geology are also aware of a class of dating techniques ubiquitously lumped together under the label of radiometric dating.
 Much of this narrative can be found in Dennis’s writings, particularly My Quest and The Alternative. My Quest was written from his jail cell, while The Alternative was written soon after he was released from prison. My Quest is no longer available as of , to my knowledge, but The Alternative is available from benjaminpohle.com as of
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