COMMENSALS The Series
In this new series, the origin, and function of our commensal bacteria are explored. In this first part the meaning of the term ‘commensals’ is explained.
What are Commensals?
The commensal bacteria are the trillions of bacteria that we carry with us in our gastro-intestinal tract. In the past decades research has uncovered the enormous importance of the commensal bacteria for our health. They are also called: our indigenous bacteria
The term commensals stems from the Latin words com and mensa, meaning ‘to eat from the same dish’. In biology it refers to a type of relationship between two different organisms in which one benefits from the other and neither provokes any harm. It is therefore a neutral relationship.
Other classes of relationships between organisms include ‘mutualism’, in which both organisms obtain benefits, or ‘parasitism’, where one profits from the other by harming it.
Although the “friendly” bacteria inhabiting our bodies are usually referred to as commensal, research in this field has shown that the relationship between our gut microbiota and us is not merely commensal, but rather mutualistic.
1. Commensal (bacteria). 2015, 11 March. at http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/glossary/
Over the next newsletters, we will go into more detail about commensals; who they are and what they do for our health.
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