The bacteria and microbes in your gut can affect your body and mental health, and engineering them promises new forms of treatment

The human body is a complex organism, made up of trillions of cells. But not all of them are human. About half of them are fungi, microbes and bacteria. Scientists are starting to understand how and why these communities — referred to as microbiomes — are crucial to the functioning of various body systems. We speak to three experts who study the gut microbiome: a gastroenterologist, a neuroscientist and a biological engineer. Their research considers how these microbiomes are important, what the relationship is between microbiomes and well being, and how synthetically engineered microorganisms promise new forms of therapies. 

Featuring Chris Damman, a gastroenterologist and clinical associate professor at the University of Washington, Andrea Merchak, an incoming postdoctoral scholar at the University of Florida, who studies the gut biome as it affects and is affected by various conditions, and Tae Seok Moon, a biological engineer at Washington University at St. Louis, who looks at how synthetic biology can be employed within the gut.

This episode was written and produced by Mend Mariwany, who is also the show’s executive producer. With production assistance from Katie Flood. Eloise Stevens does our sound design, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Full credits for this episode are available here. A transcript will be available soon. Sign up here for a free daily newsletter from The Conversation.

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