It seems fairly common amongst humans in modern societies that we seem to focus on our individual selves, we identify as singular human beings. Setting aside the importance of socialization and being a part of families, the human community, and the larger ecological community, it might also be worth mentioning that our individual human body is also not what it seems. Welcome to the human microbiome. Your body is human, bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists and viruses.

The human body is full of bacteria, and in fact is estimated to contain more bacterial cells than human cells.

Source: National Human Genome Research Institute:

Our bodies play host to a wide variety of microbes, called the human microbiota, that outnumber our own cells by about 10 to 1.

Source: Wide Variety of Bacteria Mapped Across the Human Body

In any human body there are around 30 trillion human cells, but our microbiome is an estimated 39 trillion microbial cells including bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on and in us.

Due to their small size, these organisms make up only about 1-3 per cent of our body mass, but this belies the microbiome’s tremendous power and potential.

We have around 20-25,000 genes in each of our cells, but the human microbiome potentially holds 500 times more.

Moreover, the ability of microbes to evolve quickly, swap genes, multiply and adapt to changing circumstances give them – and us, their hosts – remarkable abilities that we’re only now beginning to fathom.

Source: The human microbiome: Everything you need to know about the 39 trillion microbes that call our bodies home