I’m starting to think that microbes might secretly rule the world. This week, I attended the American Phytopathological Society annual meeting. This is the professional organization for plant pathologists. Plant pathologists are scientists who study plant diseases. Yes, I am one of those geeky people.
The hot topic at the meeting was the plant “phytobiome”. This is the microbial community that lives on or around plants. Believe it or not, plants need these microbes to grow and be healthy in the same way that humans need their gut microbiome to be healthy. It is very important to cultivate the health of the microbes in the soil, because these microbes play many key roles. Some soil microbes are directly antagonistic to plant pathogens, nematodes, or insects. Soil microbes can protect plant root surfaces from colonization by pathogenic microbes (bad guys), by simply out competing them for space. Soil microbes break down organic matter into usable nutrients and can improve the uptake of these nutrients to plants. Soil microbes even produce compounds that improve root growth and elicit an immune type of response to protect from diseases. Wow! All of this highlights the importance of maintaining good populations of these microbes, by adding compost and organic matter, as well as encouraging microbial populations with cover crops. You can be confident we’re doing our best to do that here at Bell’s Best.
I have heard it hypothesized that these same soil microbes that help plants grow and be healthy, play a role in human health as well. Here are some quotes taken from Dr. Mercola’s post on soil health, that you should read if you geek out on this kind of stuff the way I do. “Soil health connects to everything up the food chain, from plant and insect health, all the way up to animal and human health. Health, therefore, truly begins in the soils in which our food is grown. Scientists have discovered that gene swapping takes place between your gut microbiome and the soil biome, as well as with microorganisms from other places in your daily surroundings.” Wow. What a great web of life. The microbes in the soil your food is grown in actually can swap genes with the microbes in your gut and ultimately become a key part of your own health!
Keep eating healthy–clean, fresh, local. I can’t stress it enough. The effects of what you eat go all the way from obvious diseases and health problems, such as obesity and diabetes, to the microbes in your gut that influence a host of things we are just beginning to understand, such as mental health and immune function. Microbes rule.
Eat your veggies! (and make sure they were grown in good dirt!)
Jay and Robin