Restoring Microbial Ecosystems for Improved Human Health

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Martin Breed, Craig Liddicoat, Christian Cando-Dumancela, Daphne McLeod, Shawn Peddle, Jake Robinson, Carl Watson, Jennifer Young, Chris Skelly, Philip Weinstein

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As the world’s population grows and cities expand, more people are shifting away from open, biodiverse spaces into urbanised environments. 50% of the world’s 7 billion people live in cities, with an increase to 70% anticipated by 2030. Rates of species extinction are now far higher than in the past 10 million years, driven in large part by increases in urban populations. This biodiversity crisis is linked to rapid increases in non-communicable diseases (e.g. chronic inflammatory conditions). Rapid urbanisation is at odds with human evolutionary history, which is deeply rooted in nature. Loss of macrodiversity following urbanisation is linked to reductions in environmental microbial diversity. Exposure to biodiverse environmental microbiota is important for healthy human immune system development and maintenance. Indeed, reduced exposure is thought to partly explain the western pandemic of non-communicable diseases. Despite these values, urban green spaces continue to decline. Can urban ecosystems be restored to serve a dual purpose of conserving native biodiversity and promoting public health at the same time?

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program