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Craig Liddicoat, Christian Cando-Dumancela, Jennifer Young, Peng Bi, Philip Weinstein, Martin Breed
Maintaining a healthy immune system has never been more important with globally escalating rates of allergies, auto-immune, and chronic inflammatory diseases, and in the face of novel viruses such as COVID-19. Evidence is growing of a critical role for exposure to natural microbial diversity in building immune fitness, supplementing our human microbiome, and enhancing protection against both infectious and non-infectious diseases. The human microbiome plays an active role in defending against pathogenic organisms, while human and environmental microbiomes can trigger immune-signaling pathways (particularly via the gut) with potential to impact the whole body – activating either defensive inflammation or tolerance of normally harmless agents. The human microbiome is intimately linked to our health and establishes from an early age, largely from environmental sources. Soils are of particular interest as a rich source of microbial diversity, and natural biodiversity in soils often associates with the biodiversity of aboveground ecosystems. A number of recent studies are helping to build evidence of health-promoting microbial diversity. These include: a large-area spatial epidemiology study linking ambient exposure to soils with typically higher microbial diversity with reduced risk of infectious and parasitic disease; field-scale microbiome work indicating the displacement of opportunistic and potential pathogenic bacteria with ecosystem restoration; and a pioneering mouse model study that found the gut microbiome could be influenced by trace-level exposures to biodiverse soil dust and that such exposures might supplement the gut with bacteria linked to reduced anxiety-like behaviour.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program