It's estimated that there are around 100 trillion bacteria in the human microbiome. But how many of those bacteria genes are actually ours? Up until now, estimates have ranged from 5,000 to 20,000 bacterial genes that are essential for human life.
A new study has used state-of-the-art sequencing technology to get a more accurate count. The study found that only about 8% of the bacterial genes in the human microbiome are essential for human life. This means that there are about 800,000 bacterial genes that are specific to our microbiome – and we don't know what they do!
This underscores the importance of studying the human microbiome – we still have so much to learn about the role of these bacteria in our health and disease.