Way back when, 2 guys decided to write a book together and a damsel got distressed. And so she plied her wares, and fucked it all up.
This is a section from Chapter 3, Chemical Warfare. It’s about the myriad ways that bacteria are in a constant state of warfare, and beyond just the quotidian synthesized chemicals they excrete, it really doesn’t even contemplate Quorum Sensing, or Horizontal Gene Transfer. Viruses play in the gut biome, too. This was written and edited just about a year ago. Tim Steele, in North Pole, Alaska, was the collaborator, as most of you know, and links are candy.
In spite of a wayward cunt, it will get published; along with the other 8 sections of the same chapter, and the other 19 chapters.
ET TU, BRUTE?
The largest threat to every Establishment in the 10,000 or so years since man first waged war was itself. Complacency, corruption, and unrealistic growth at the expense of society’s resources have toppled many regimes. Human governing systems attempted to solve this problem with layers of bureaucratic oversight, but it’s generally a hostile takeover that ends dictatorships. Our gut bugs must regard us as sheer amateurs. Our microbes, in their 3 billion year history of warfare, saw fit to build in a self-regulating, continuous coup d’etat.
A common argument used by those who eschew animals as food sources for humans, in favor of various plant-based diets is the fact that humans don’t have claws, flesh ripping fangs, and they can’t run as fast as predators like big cats, wolves, and wild dogs. Such reasoning, however, doesn’t account for the chief predator of humans: other humans.
Humans are vicious predators, possessing the most marvelous weapon ever devised by evolution: a big brain. Rather than relying on physical attributes to engage in predation, man’s big brain allows for the development of tools, weapons, strategy, and tactics such as persistence hunting. Moreover, humans are masters of deception on all levels, both individual and socially collective.
…Anywhere bacteria are found, phages are not far behind. Phages are viruses that prey on bacteria. There are 10 times as many phages in the world as there are bacteria, making phages the most abundant life form in numbers on the planet. Seawater contains more phages than anywhere else. And there can exist over 900,000,000 phages in a milliliter of seawater!
The official name is bacteriophage, Greek for bacteria eater. In the human gut, phages operate on a principle known as “kill-the-winner.” Any time a bacterial population gets too big, phages come along and knock them down to size—the world’s most brutal police force. By killing overpopulated bacteria, any single gut bacterial species is prevented from gaining too much control of the biome. This drives microbial diversity and guarantees there are sufficient different types of gut bugs to perform each specific role. A gut without this government regulation would soon be populated by just one or two global superpower microbes good at doing a few things, but completely unprepared to deal with contingencies or disasters.
Gut bugs must interact with each other to form a common defense and tackle shared duties, but they must also compete for space and food. Phages are the great equalizer. When everything is going fine, diversity is high, and populations are stable, the phages do nothing. They’re not indiscriminate killers. If an invading microbial population overcomes all defenses and is then able to grow rapidly, the phages jump into action and kill the intruders.
A phage does its dirty work in one of two ways: either exploding the bacteria outright, or infecting it with its DNA—forcing the microbe to become a breeder of phages. We told you this was going to get weird. The different types of phages can be differentiated by their knife-like tails, or lack thereof. The lunar lander-looking structure includes a capsule where the phage’s DNA is stored. [You can Google for images of what phages look like under an electron microscope.]
…So, I’ve had this tab up in my browser for days, unwilling to close it, unsure what to do with it, no inspiration to blog it until I recalled the foregoing.
A new study reveals that eukaryotic viruses are able to both shape mucosal immunity and support intestinal homeostasis in mice. Specifically, infection with murine norovirus (MNV) appears able to replace the beneficial function of bacterial colonization in the gut.
Scientists have long known that RNA viruses are commonly found in healthy infants and children, as well as in individuals recovering from acute gastroenteritis. Such viral infections have generally been assumed to be detrimental to the host. The new study turns that assumption on its head and hints that these viruses may play a role similar to that of the bacterial microbiome. […]
The new findings are the first strong evidence that viruses in the gastrointestinal tract can help maintain health and heal a damaged gut. Before this study, there had been very little investigation of the viruses that colonize the gut.
The team infected germ-free mice and antibiotic-treated mice with MNV and found that the infection triggered the repair of intestinal tissue damaged by inflammation, restored intestinal cell numbers, restored intestinal cell function, and normalized tissue architecture. The results were apparent after just 2 weeks of MNV infection.
Infection with MNV also helped restore the gut’s immune system. The investigators do not yet know how the virus supports the immune system. They did find, however, increased signaling by antiviral type 1 interferon proteins, suggesting the virus was playing a key role in driving the immune response.
The investigators also documented a doubling of T-cell levels in the blood and detectable levels of antibodies in the gut and blood of antibiotic-treated mice after MNV infection. These measures were consistent with a normalization of the immune response. The authors conclude that viral infection of the gut may be helpful once antibiotic treatment has wiped out intestinal bacteria. […]
“We have known for a long time that people get infected all the time with viruses and bacteria, and they don’t get sick,” senior investigator Ken Cadwell, PhD, also from New York University, noted in a university news release. “Now we have scientific evidence that not every viral infection is bad, but may actually be beneficial to health, just as we know that many bacterial infections are good for maintaining health.”
Or, you know, go order up another free delivery of Paleo brownies and/or cookies, tell everyone you’re “PALEOW!!!” Start a blog, hook up with affiliate accounts. It’s a trend.
It’s solid. It’s bankable. For. A. While.
Or, just go long term view and get lafs. At you.