Monday January 27, 2020

An Apple Contains 100 Million Bacteria! Are These Microbes Good for You?

The majority of the bacteria are in the seeds, with the flesh accounting for most of the remainder

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apple, bacteria
An apple a day is 100mn bacteria for your gut. Wikimedia Commons

Next time when you eat an apple for extra fibre, flavonoids and flavour, remember that you are also gulping down about 100 million bacteria, and whether these are good or bad microbes may depend on how the apples were grown.

Most microbes are inside the apple but the strains depend on which bits you eat, and whether you go organic, say researchers, adding that organically-grown apples harbour more diverse and balanced bacteria which make them healthier and tastier than conventional apples.

“The bacteria, fungi and viruses in our food transiently colonise our gut. Cooking kills most of these, so raw fruit and vegetable are particularly important sources of gut microbes,” said Professor Gabriele Berg from Graz University of Technology in Austria.

apple, bacteria
The majority of the bacteria are in the seeds, with the flesh accounting for most of the remainder. Pixabay

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, compared the bacteria in conventional store-bought apples with those in visually-matched fresh organic ones. Stem, peel, flesh, seeds and calyx — the straggly bit at the bottom where the flower used to be — were analyzed separately. Overall, the organic and conventional apples were occupied by similar numbers of bacteria.

“Putting together the average for each apple component, we estimate a typical 240-gram apple contains roughly 100 million bacteria,” Berg informed. The majority of the bacteria are in the seeds, with the flesh accounting for most of the remainder. So, if you discard the core, your intake falls to nearer 10 million.

The question is: Are these bacteria good for you? “Freshly harvested, organically-managed apples harbour a significantly more diverse, more even and distinct bacterial community, compared to conventional ones,” explained Berg. Specific groups of bacteria known for health-affecting potential also weighed in favour of organic apples.

apple, bacteria
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, compared the bacteria in conventional store-bought apples with those in visually-matched fresh organic ones. Wikimedia Commons

“Escherichia-Shigella — a group of bacteria that includes known pathogens — was found in most of the conventional apple samples, but none from organic apples. For beneficial Lactobacilli — of probiotic fame — the reverse was true,” said the researchers.

ALSO READ: To Protect Grains from Drought, Australia Searches for Climate-Proof Crops

Methylobacterium, known to enhance the biosynthesis of strawberry flavour compounds, was significantly more abundant in organic apples, “especially on peel and flesh samples, which in general had a more diverse microbiota than seeds, stem or calyx”, said the researchers.

The results also mirrored findings on fungal communities in apples. “Our results agree remarkably with a recent study on the apple fruit associated fungal community, which revealed specificity of fungal varieties to different tissues and management practices,” said Birgit Wasserman, lead author of the study. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

Also Read: Here Are Some Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Freedom Fighters this Republic Day

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)