Sunday April 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)

Next Story

Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known. 

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The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality. Pixabay

Expecting mothers, take note. As smoking during pregnancy is linked with negative health outcomes, a team of researchers has found that smoking cessation during pregnancy may reduce the risk of pre-term birth.

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy.

baby
If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation. Pixabay

“Of concern, though, given the substantial benefits of smoking cessation during pregnancy is that the proportion of pre-pregnancy smokers who quit smoking during pregnancy has remained essentially stagnant since 2011,” said lead author Samir Soneji from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the US.

For the study, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of more than 25 million pregnant women who gave birth to live neonates during a six-year period — measuring their smoking frequency three months prior to pregnancy and for each trimester during pregnancy.

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known.

But the good news is that the proportion of women who start their pregnancy as smokers has been declining in recent years, the researchers said.

smoking

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy. Pixabay

However, the study also found that only about 25 per cent of women who smoked prior to pregnancy were able to quit throughout their pregnancy, and approximately 50 per cent of women who smoked during their pregnancy did so with high frequency (more than 10 cigarettes per day).

The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality.

Also Read: How Netflix Binge-Watching Can Lead You The “Mean World Syndrome”

“Thankfully most premature babies end up doing well,” he said.

“But premature birth is strongly linked to infant mortality. If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation,” he added. (IANS)