The Microbiome Quiz

SCIENCE

Staff

4 Min Quiz

What is a microbiome?

A microbiome comprises microorganisms in a specific environment, and it can refer to all the combined genetic material of those organisms, too.

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True or false: Microbiomes can exist in the atmosphere, high above Earth.

Microbiomes can exist in the atmosphere on or in humans, plants and bodies of water — in other words, just about anywhere.

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In comparison to the human body's cells, how numerous are bacteria that inhabit the body?

Estimates vary greatly, but it is likely that bacteria are as at least as numerous as our own cells.

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In what year did Joshua Lederberg coin the term "microbiota"?

Lederberg was a molecular biologist who won the 1958 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for proving that bacteria reproduce sexually and exchange genes.

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True or false: Microbiomes play an important role in maintaining healthy functioning in a wide array of ecosystems.

When microbiomes are disrupted, there can be a variety of negative consequences, from human diseases to crop damage.

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Some scientists view the human microbiome as what?

Some scientists see the microbiome very much as an organ, one that must be cared for to preserve human health.

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What is one major goal of the United States' National Microbiome Initiative, which was announced in May 2016?

The NMI stresses that much more research must be done so that we can learn to protect and restore microbiomes.

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True or false: The human gut microbiome is generally healthier when there is less microbe diversity.

Diverse, robust populations of microbes seem to be a sign of a healthy gut microbiome.

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The human microbiome is an example of what concept?

In symbiosis, organisms cooperate and depend on one another for survival; humans need their microbiome to stay alive.

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About how many different microbes are there in the human gastrointestinal tract?

If you could lump them together and put them on a scale, your 1,000 different gut microbes might weigh around 5 pounds (2 kilograms).

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How much money are federal agencies pooling to forward the causes of the National Microbiome Initiative?

The $121 million will be used to investigate all sorts of microbiomes, from humans to soil to the oceans.

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How much money did the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invest to study human and agricultural microbiomes?

The $100 million donation shows that many people consider microbiome research to be one of the most important developing fields in science.

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Altogether, how many genes are there in the 1,000 types of microbes in the human gut?

With approximately 3 million genes, no wonder this microbiome is so complex.

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True or false: Scientists had hardly studied the human microbiome before the U.S. National Microbiome Initiative.

We already new that gut microbes were vital, but the NMI adds a higher level of collaboration between the people researching these issues.

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About how long does it take new babies to fully develop their gut microbiomes?

It takes about three years for babies to develop a fundamental microbiome, which will continue to change throughout their lives.

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What is one of the most effective treatments for people who are suffering from serious imbalances in their gut microbes?

Poop enemas (or fecal transplants) have proved to be surprisingly effective in helping to restore proper microbiota in many ill people.

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How many Americans die each year after being infected by <i>Clostridium difficile</i> infections?

About 30,000 Americans die yearly from the infections. The bacterial overload can cause terrible diarrhea but may be combated with antibiotics or, in some cases, fecal transplants that balance gut microbes.

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What sort of material does the nonprofit OpenBiome collect?

The organization collects stool samples from donors. The samples are used for fecal transplants that can save the lives of people suffering from gut infections.

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True or false: Microbiome researchers are opposed to the use of antibiotics to treat disease.

Most still support the intelligent use of antibiotics, but they stress that antibiotics upset the balance of microbes in the body.

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Use of antibiotics in childhood is one suspected cause of what health problem?

Antibiotics may contribute to microbe imbalances that result in gut diseases, and they may take a wider toll on the body, too.

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Which food can help make your microbiome more robust?

Kimchi, yogurt, yams, bananas and brown rice can make gut microbes healthier.

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How does triclosan affect the human microbiome?

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent used in many household products, and it may cause significant disruptions in gut bacteria, leading to health problems.

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How do the microbiomes of cesarean section babies differ from those that are born vaginally?

Vaginal birth adds microbes to a baby's microbiome that a C-section delivery does not.

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In one study, what did researchers do to help build the microbiomes of C-section babies?

They swabbed the babies with fluids from the mother's birth canal. The study showed that there were tremendous differences between swabbed and unswabbed babies.

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What are archaea?

Along with fungi and bacteria, single-celled microorganisms (archaea) make up the human microbiome.

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Products with triclosan may have a profound affect on which population?

Unborn babies may have the worst consequences from triclosan, as the chemical interferes with their developing microbiomes.

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Why are fecal transplants effective at battling some gut infections?

The complexity of the human microbiome is underlined by the fact that scientists aren't quite sure why fecal transplants work.

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When was the Human Microbiome project launched?

The five-year project essentially jump-started the investigation into the effect microbiomes have on health.

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In 2016, what was the result of drug trials featuring SER-109, a poop pill meant to fight <i>C. difficile</i> infections?

The failed trials were a surprise inside the science world and on the stock market, as the company's stock dropped sharply once the news was announced.

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About how many different samples does the Earth Microbiome Project hope to analyze?

The project hopes to analyze 200,000 samples of sand, soil, water and other samples to get a better understanding of how microbial interactions shape our world.

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Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

The tiny organisms you can't see can transform your world and your health in amazing and scary ways. How much do you know about microbiomes?

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