Thursday February 21, 2019

Economics among bacteria: Even microbes in our body trade for survival

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Photo credit: livescience.com
Photo credit: jonlieffmd.com

New York: Economic concepts not just explain about how societies buy, sell, and trade goods and services but can also explore the mysteries about the behaviour of microbial life on the earth and inside our body, a study says.

Microbes are everywhere – in the air, soil, and even inside the human body.

Although microbes are ubiquitous, they interact with each other in complicated ways that are not well understood.

A large fraction of microbial life exists in complex communities where the exchange of molecules and proteins is vital for their survival.

They trade these essential resources to promote their own growth in ways that are similar to countries that exchange goods in modern economic markets.

Researchers from Claremont Graduate University, Boston University and Columbia University applied the general equilibrium theory of economics — which explains the exchange of resources in complex economies — to understand the trade of resources in microbial communities.

The researchers experimented with a synthetic consortium of Escherichia coli cells.

They manipulated the cells’ DNA to artificially alter the production and export rate of the cells, and then tested the population growth implications of the theory.

As trade increased, the bacterial communities grew faster, the results said.

While all of the microbes benefited from trade, the more a bacteria strain exported, the slower it grew relative to the importing bacteria strain.

“That means that species face a trade off between growing their communities faster versus increasing their own population relative to that of a trading partner,” said Joshua Tasoff, economics professor at Claremont Graduate University.

“The results open the door for the application of other economic concepts that could improve our understanding of microbial and other biological communities,” Tasoff said.

The results were published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

(IANS)

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Know How Higher Intake of Sodium Can Treat Lightheadedness

Greater sodium intake is widely viewed as an intervention for preventing lightheadedness when moving from seated to standing positions.

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"Health practitioners initiating sodium interventions for orthostatic symptoms now have some evidence that sodium might actually worsen symptoms," Juraschek said. Pixabay

Higher sodium intake should not be used as a treatment for lightheadedness, say researchers challenging current guidelines for sodium consumption.

Lightheadedness while standing, known as postural lightheadedness, results from gravitational drop in blood pressure and is common among adults.

Greater sodium intake is widely viewed as an intervention for preventing lightheadedness when moving from seated to standing positions.

However, contrary to this recommendation, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) found that higher sodium intake, actually increases dizziness.

“Our study has clinical and research implications,” said Stephen Juraschek, researcher from BIDMC in Boston.

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Greater sodium intake is widely viewed as an intervention for preventing lightheadedness when moving from seated to standing positions. Pixabay

“Our results serve to caution health practitioners against recommending increased sodium intake as a universal treatment for lightheadedness. Additionally, our results demonstrate the need for additional research to understand the role of sodium, and more broadly of diet, on lightheadedness,” Juraschek said.

For the study, reported in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, the team used data from the completed DASH-Sodium trial, a randomised crossover study that looked at the effects of three different sodium levels (1500, 2300, and 3300 mg/d) on participants’ blood pressure for four weeks.

While the trial showed that lower sodium led to decrease in blood pressure, it also suggested that concerns about lower level of sodium causing dizziness may not be scientifically correct.

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The study also questioned recommendations to use sodium to treat lightheadedness, an intervention that could have negative effects on cardiovascular health.

“Health practitioners initiating sodium interventions for orthostatic symptoms now have some evidence that sodium might actually worsen symptoms,” Juraschek said.

“Clinicians should check on symptoms after initiation and even question the utility of this approach. More importantly, research is needed to understand the effects of sodium on physical function, particularly in older adults.” (IANS)