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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (2016)

by Ed Yong

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,7024910,190 (4.13)108
This book lets us peer into the world of microbes -- not as germs to be eradicated, but as invaluable parts of our lives -- allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, prompting us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we are. I Contain Multitudes is the story of extraordinary partnerships between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it. --… (more)
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» See also 108 mentions

English (48)  Italian (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Really interesting. Deals with the first discovery of microbes, symbionts and the idea that their is likely a price to pay and the idea of custom microbiomesnfor the future ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
Если раньше люди видели в бактериях врагов, то теперь есть мнение, что они наши союзники в борьбе за здоровье. Современная наука называет этот союз скорее взаимной эксплуатацией с элементами манипуляции. Изучение микроорганизмов в последнее время стало модным, так как появились прорывные технологии их исследования. Биохимик Э. Йонг представляет целую россыпь вестей с переднего края науки о бактериях, живущих в животных.

А новости эти таковы, что без своих особых бактерий комар — разносчик лихорадки Денге никогда не разовьется в опасную взрослую особь, а микрофлора кишечника у людей с ожирением и нормальным телосложением различается. Что здесь причина, а что следствие, как всем этим управлять и каковы глобальные последствия миллиметровых изменений — вопросы, на которые уже сейчас появляются ответы. В том числе практического характера: большого толка от приема бутылочек с «культурами» нет — этот «поезд» проследует сквозь вас без остановок. ( )
  Den85 | Jan 3, 2024 |
Microbes are everywhere. They’re in the air we breathe and on every surface we touch and in the water we drink and the food we eat. They’re inside our bodies, helping us digest our food and protecting us from infections. They’re even inside our own cells in the form of mitochondria. This book details some of the things bacteria can do and some of the ways they affect us, as well as research that is being done to try to manipulate bacteria or manipulate the environment using bacteria.

My expectations were very high for this book, and the results are mixed. It’s a real rollercoaster - some of the research on amazing things bacteria can do and the ways it affects the world are incredible, but they’re intermixed with sections about how this bacteria or that bacteria could help someone lose five pounds (which the book assumes must be “healthy”) or cause them to gain 5 pounds (which the book assumes must be “unhealthy”). I was hoping for something more critical of assumptions like that, but maybe this was more marketable.

The most interesting thing I learned about microbes from this book did have to do with animal diets, however. A lot of the food that animals consume (particularly plants) is not digested by the animal themselves, but by the bacteria that live inside them, which then produce smaller molecules that can be digested by the animal. In some cases (multi-chamber-stomached herbivores like cows) the animals even digest the bacteria themselves as their “food” after feeding them grass or hay. This is especially true of mammalian breast milk, which contains very large sugar molecules which can’t be digested by babies at all. The milk feeds the microbes, and the microbes feed the babies. Incredible stuff. ( )
  norabelle414 | Sep 7, 2023 |
This is an excellent review of the popular topic, microbial symbiosis. Mr. Yong covers the symbiotic relationships between bacteria and their uni- and multicellular hosts, their microenvironments, and the various functions that the hosts and microbes have evolved to share or trade. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
I love microbiology, it was one of my favorite classes in undergrad. Microbes just make sense, they are everywhere and they interact in fascinating ways, responsible for so many things. This book is very accessible, in part because nearly everything covered relates directly to the reader in some way. While microbes are able to influence so many aspects of our lives, from our moods to our allergies to our weight, I think there could have been more emphasis on how they are not the whole picture. I know *certain* people who would hear microbes can influence your mood and then insist the cure for depression is changing your diet, or rather, you aren't even depressed, you just eat crap. There is a lot more nuance and complexity to our systems, and as amazing as microbes are, we have to bring that complexity to every issue we encounter with them. Overall, I really enjoyed this and learned a few things. ( )
  KallieGrace | Jun 8, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Ed Yong is a talented British science writer, a staff writer for The Atlantic and the author of a wonderful blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science, hosted by National Geographic. “I Contain Multitudes,” his first book, covers a huge amount of microscopic territory in clear, strong, often epigrammatic prose. Yong has advanced degrees in biology, and he is remarkably well informed; he includes descriptions of many studies that are still unpublished, and even a few original ideas for new experiments. He is infectiously enthusiastic about microbes, and he describes them with verve.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ed Yongprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anson, CharlieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wood, SaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book lets us peer into the world of microbes -- not as germs to be eradicated, but as invaluable parts of our lives -- allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, prompting us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we are. I Contain Multitudes is the story of extraordinary partnerships between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it. --

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