Credit: Cecil Lewis Jr, University of Oklahoma.
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Women from the village of Tunapuco.
Credit: Cecil Lewis Jr, University of Oklahoma.

Gut Bacteria Research Is Getting Less WEIRD

The study of the microbiome–the bacteria and other microbes that share our bodies–is hitting the big time, but most of this research is WEIRD. That is, it’s based in Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic countries. This bias is understandable, but it leaves us with a very skewed picture of our microbial partners. And that will become increasingly important as we move towards manipulating our microbes to shape our health. We’d be like conservationists who are trying to restore a forest when they have only ever seen deserts.

But some scientists are now branching out from the guts of the West and trying to catalogue the microbes in hunter-gatherers, some of whom have had virtually no contact with mainstream groups.

I look at their efforts in a new piece for Nova. Head over there for the full story.