Friday, May 24, 2013

This Fungus Is Growing All Over Your Body

   Your body is covered in tiny fungal ecosystems. No, really, it is. And now, for the first time, scientists have mapped the places where fungus grows the most on your skin. 

Fungal richness varies across your body, but the most diverse communities of these microbes live on your feet. 

In recent years, scientists have devoted a lot of time to studying the gut microbiome — the microscopic ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes living inside of our intestines. Studies show that your symbiotic gut flora are vital to maintaining good health and actually help protect you from colonization by other microbes that can make you sick

Less attention has been given to your skin's microbiome. Past research has characterized the bacteria living on our skin, but the same cannot be said about the fungus among us, despite that some estimates suggest 29 million people in the U.S. have some form of cutaneous (skin) fungal infection, including toenail infections, ringworm and yeast infections. One issue complicating the diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections is that fungi can be slow to culture in the lab, partly due to the difficultly in identifying and replicating the conditions necessary for healthy fungal growth.

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