Nowadays, the existence of the human microbiome, the totality of microbes inhabiting us, seems to be common knowledge and research as well as business endeavors are intensifying their efforts to uncover more insights about it. Yet, far from common knowledge, our body is also occupied by countless viruses, a fascinating subject I recently wrote an article about. This virobiome, the collection of viruses calling our bodies home, has only recently been discovered and our knowledge of it is still in its infancy. What we do know however, is that there are lots and lots of viruses inside us which manage to co-exist peacefully and they’re on every body surface you can imagine.
Most of these viruses are bacteriophages or phages, viruses infecting bacteria. These phages regulate the proportions of our microbiome and make sure that no one species in our gut dominates. Apart from that, the integration of phages into bacteria also accelerates the evolution of the latter. It has been demonstrated that phages can even provide the bacteria of our microbiome with antiobiotic resistance genes. Of course, viruses themselves have an even greater evolutionary velocity and can basically change into a different species in just a few years. With viruses regulating our microbiome and also educating our immune system as well as influencing our metabolism, we have to again question our identity as humans if we offload many tasks to our bacteria and viruses. There are many more details in my linked article if you’re curious!