Diversity-The key to life

Bacteria tree of life

From the New York Times article “Scientists Unveil New ‘Tree of Life’” by Carl Zimmer
“The new tree of life that researchers published on Monday. It shows that much of Earth’s biodiversity is bacteria, top, half of which includes “candidate phyla radiation” that are still waiting to be discovered. Humans are in the bottom branch of eukaryotes.”
Credit Jill Banfield/UC Berkeley, Laura Hug/University of Waterloo

I used to think it must be the water when people began to get sick with cancer during my growing up years, because it was so sudden it seemed. One minute it was whispered about and the next everyone I knew was a potential target for its wrath. I would muse that the chlorine in city water surely must be to blame for all the ills that were befalling my parent’s friends and others. Maybe I wasn’t that far off? This article I highlighted here speaks of the lopsided number of bacteria, fungi and lichen that inhabits our world in comparison to the more familiar vertebrate that we see every day. These minute creatures play an outsized role in our lives you can be sure.

In reading my monthly copy of Smithsonian Magazine I took note of an article a couple of years ago that discussed people of Finland having a serious rise in auto immune diseases, while right next door in Russia a genetically similar group of people hardly knew what those same diseases were. The researcher hypothesized the difference in the two communities was simply dirt. The Hygiene Hypothesis was born.
The research concluded that life without the antibiotics and cleanliness of the industrial world kept the Russians next door out of harms way for auto immune diseases.

In the industrial world we have anti bacterial wipes at the grocery store for the cart handles, anti bacterial soaps and anti bacterial laundry detergent. Not to mention bleach that plays a huge role in our lives for anything from white flour to bathroom cleaner and of course chlorine in any municipal water source. Antibiotics we take when we are sick claim a prominent place in our lives as well. Chlorine was designed to keep pipes from developing algae, which tends to grow in the absence of oxygen, but chlorine ended up disinfecting the water to the point there may not be a germ in it. Antibiotics ONLY treat bacterial infections and have nothing to do with the viruses that most often send us to the doctor yet we have gotten in the habit of demanding them for even simple colds doing us no favors.

All living things need different forms of germs and bacteria to keep us all healthy. Without them in our human systems our guts would become nonfunctional and we would die. The Hygiene Hypothesis contends that our immune systems have become “bored” without any credible germs to fight, so the response is to attack our own systems.

Unfortunately, we take things farther yet by spraying, dousing and infusing the earth with anti bacterial pesticide chemicals to the point that our crop soils will not support life on their own. Looking at the above computer model of the “Tree of Life” I would venture that in their natural state plants that we eat would provide us with many fungi’s and bacteria that are now gone from our diet and our ultimate health cycle. Plants ingest nutrients from the soils that feed their growth and manmade fertilizers just can make up for the divergent microbe society that thrives underground when not sprayed with untold chemicals.

To take my thinking one step farther, what do you suppose we communicate to the microbe community when we plant genetically modified crops? At some point GMO plant life must be conveying/signaling to the greater soil complex that we do not need them, perhaps further eradicating life as we know it.

I have planted GMO flower and vegetable seed before, harvested from a pepper I cut up or flowers that went to seed and they positively will not grow. They come up from the soil for a few inches and promptly die because they have been genetically programmed to never repeat their life, which forces us to buy new seeds every year for our gardens. They somehow do not need the building blocks of the soil on their suicide mission, so what do they “teach” or pass on of survival? Will plants forget how to survive going forward?

Apparently human bodies are learning that survival is not necessarily something we need concern ourselves with judging by the auto immune responses around the developed world. We have antibiotics for our sickness, pure water where every last thing has been removed in the way of microbes and minerals and soaps to make sure even our skin will not suffer from microbes in the form of dirt. Trouble is, all of these teachings are not creating knowledge in our cell structure, it is creating laziness.

My conscious responses to the world around me are borne from my parents and their parents and theirs, etc…my physical responses to disease and sickness have similar building blocks no doubt and without those who am I? Right down to cell level I should be a product of germ warfare where survival of the fittest is the doctrine to live by. Do I really want to play with that formula?

Diversity is the key to everything from politics to germs. We cannot survive with a mono-culture in our soils, our bodies or our minds. We were designed with diversity for a reason and we need to get back to that before it is too late.


Leave a Reply