It’s cold and flu time again. The scratchy throat, the sniffles and the irritating cough that leave us acutely aware that there is something living inside us. 

Of course, most of the time we are oblivious to the fact that we are hosts to anything. The odd tummy bug or dose of athlete’s foot notwithstanding, most of the time we are unaware of anything invading our body space. Which is quite extraordinary, because humans are home to an astonishing array of species living both on us and in us. And while you’d think that we’d know pretty much all about the bugs, microbes and fungi that inhabit our body space, we don’t.

As recently as this decade, in 2013, researchers at the University of California and at Cornell University in New York discovered an entirely new phylum of gut bacteria, Melainabacteria, while only last year, simple single-celled organisms known as archaea were found in humans. These had previously only been seen to exist in extreme environments such as super-hot thermal springs, so their discovery in human noses and our appendixes was met with amazement.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Comments

Share your thoughts and debate the big issues

Learn more
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Create a commenting name to join the debate

Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted
Loading comments...
Loading comments...
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Loading comments...
Loading comments...