Microbes, a Love Story

Article Link:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/sunday/microbes-a-love-story.html?_r=0

Summary: Microbes keep us sexy. Because there are so many microbes in the world that are dangerous to humans, we tend not to focus on the one that keep us healthy or even the ones that could keep us sexy. According to this article by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, sharing microbes through kissing (like you mean it), spending time with close friends, and caring for infants, we self-vaccinate by trading microbes with people who have different microbes inside of them then we do. According to this classic Swiss study, microbes can also give us a “healthy glow” or a “sexy” smell that can attract people with opposite immune system genes. This article also references a study with mice where some mice where give a probiotic that made them more attractive to mice of the other sex and made female mice more fertile. Trading microbes with other people can help keep is more healthy overall and help produce healthier offspring.

Connections:  We have discussed useful microbes in class, specifically microbes that are in our guts. This article goes into more detail about how the microbes that are already inside us can be beneficial.

Critical Analysis: I found this article as a whole extremely interesting. I think it is especially interesting that animals such as young elephants and naked mole rats actively try to acquire microbes from their parents. Young elephants eat the feces of their mother to acquire microbes necessary for digestion and makes mole rats babies beg their parents for their anal excretions. That is both extremely gross and super cool. The prospect of probiotics that could make you more attractive or fertile is through-provoking.

Question: If a “super probiotic” that could make you more attractive could exist or was created for human use, would you take it? Why or why not?

1 Comment for “Microbes, a Love Story”



First off, I like how you posted this article around Valentines day, pretty funny. I also found this article to be pretty interesting. Although the author referenced a lot of information we already knew (evolution examples and needing to create a genetically diverse world), they put a fun spin on the story of evolution when it comes to our personal microbes and actions towards children. We all now know some fun facts about naked mole rats and elephants. But I do wish the author could have dived into a bit more about microbes attracting people to the opposite sex rather than just children, because I felt like most of the information in this article was already well known; like T-shirt experiment for example is very popular. Your question raises many ethical questions.. is this a supplement that would physically change your appearance immediately? Are there side effects? What is considered “attractive”? I argue that a “super probiotic” already exists with exercise, healthy diets, vitamins, seeing the sunshine, coffee; all of these immediately boost people’s moods and being happy is attractive. Using that argument a probiotic is being used by the public everyday.