A double revolution has emerged in biology at the start of the 21st century: microbes are everywhere, and they form, beyond disease or decomposition, mutually beneficial relationships with large organisms.
Plants cannot live without microbes, bacteria or fungi: they contain them even within their cells! Animals, including ourselves, cannot perform their physiological functions without the microbes that colonize them: intestine, but also skin and all our cavities are defended by microbes... which influence behavior or development (even breastfeeding has partly a microbial nature!).
Our cultural evolution has also relied on microbes, for example in the emergence of post-Neolithic food (dairy products, domesticated plants, etc.). Today, understanding this microbial presence offers new tools and perspectives for health, food production and environment-friendly management of the future. Neglecting the role of microbes can, at the opposite, lead to problems like the rise of allergies, obesity, and even tragic mistakes in environmental engineering.
Plants, animals and ecosystems are "never alone". We will discover how microbes build the world around us!
M.-A. SELOSSE, Symbiose & mutualisme versus évolution : de la guerre à la paix ? ATALA 15, 2012.
M.-A. SELOSSE, L'homme augmenté … grâce aux microbes, Pour la Science hors série, 105, novembre-décembre 2019.
microbes, plants, animals