Urban Biodiversity to Lower Chronic Disease

Sourced from Phys.org

Replanting urban environments with native flora could be a cost effective way to improve public health because it will help 'rewild' the environmental and human microbiota, University of Adelaide researchers say.

In a new paper, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers say that humans – thought of as 'holobionts', a symbiosis of host and microorganisms reliant on ecosystem health and biodiversity for optimal health outcomes – and more specifically, urban populations, are in dire need of more natural habitat to address chronic disease rates.

In an effort to stem rising global rates of non-communicable diseases like asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergies which have been linked to less diverse human microbiomes, researchers suggest restoration of urban microbial biodiversity through rewilding could help address chronic health problems.

Lead author Jacob Mills, from The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, said that evidence is pointing towards humans needing healthy, natural, and microbially-rich environments to properly develop as healthy holobionts.

"We are more than human, cell-for-cell we are 57% microbial, we're walking ecosystems. Our symbiotic microbial partners, or our 'Old Friends' as they're known, come from our mother and wider habitat when we're young. These microorganisms play vital roles in our health, particularly our immune training and regulation,'' he said.

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