Perhaps no science topic has taken human health by storm over the past 15-20 years quite like the microbiome. The collection of living organisms—bacteria, viruses, fungi—that have made their home in and on our bodies have piqued the attention of the public, scientists and journalists, alike. Scientists have linked the microbiome—and changes in its composition—to a wide range of maladies: from obesity to asthma to mental disorders like depression. Many now refer to the microbiome as a human organ—on par with our stomach and heart! This hype has led to the commercialization of a variety of products–such as probiotics—and procedures that claim to will establish and maintain a healthy microbiome. While there have been some fascinating studies with ‘germ-free mice’ (which lack a microbiome), scientists still aren’t sure what constitutes a healthy human microbiome—or if one even exists. While the microbiome is not an epigenetics topic, the Epigenetics Literacy Project has decided to cover the microbiome because like epigenetics the microbiome involves potential changes to our health that are not hard-coded into our genomes.

Understanding Epigenetics:
Check out these stories for more context on epigenetics and agriculture
The Quantified Microbiome Self
Carl Zimmer | National Geographic
Chemical signaling between gut microbiota and host chromatin: What is your gut really saying?
April 12, 2017 | Kimberly Krautkramer, Federico E. Rey, John D. Denu | Journal of Biological Chemistry
Antibiotics, gut microbiota, environment in early life and type 1 diabetes
February 13, 2017 | Youjia Hu, F. Susan Wong, Li Wen | Pharmacological Research
The gut microbiome shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease
July 29, 2016 | June L. Round, Sarkis K. Mazmanian | Nature Reviews Immunology
Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers
July 29, 2016 | Emmanuelle Le Chatelier, et al. | Nature