You were dreaming of this moment for years. Far away from the hustle and bustle of your exhausting daily life, you have arrived to this tropical paradise not one moment too soon. Sunshine, palm trees swaying in mild breeze and burning hot sand under your bare feet. In the distance your cruise ship is sunbathing ,waiting for all the tourists to return aboard at the end of day.
Lots of activities to choose from but one strikes you with special thrill. Diving and snorkeling.
Would’n it be just fun!
The memory of this rich, busy underwater world you visited years ago, seems like an eternity ago. In deep silence little colorful fish swimming between the rocks and corral. See weed swaying in the rhythm of underwater currents.Bigger fish of unknown kind staring at you without blinking.
At long last you strap your snorkeling mask and jump into the warm turquoise water. Swimming with all your might you are trying to move away from the crowd and have the ocean bottom for yourself only. Searching and looking around for a replica of your memory. Rare yellow fish would swing by. Few other small silvery fish appear from behind a limp corral. Plankton shimmers in the sunlight. Quiet and not busy. You start to think that you might have been lost in some desolated place and swim around looking for more but ,avail, nothing much to find. Disappointed and tired you return to your group getting ready to for return ashore.
Something is not right! Where has all that life and diversity gone?
You want your money back! They brought you to a graveyard of a corral reef.
Instead of running to the tourist office to file a complaint you decide to enjoy the rest of the day, sit in a beach chair and read, just read. Complementary local newspapers sit on top of your orange beach bag . In the shade of large brimmed straw hat and new sunglasses, with still wet and salty fingers you skim the titles sampling bits and peaces of local life .
“Dying Reef ” flashes in front of your eyes snuggled behind sunglasses. You swiftly dive in, only to find out that yes, you have just visited corral reef graveyard. This reef is in fact dying. Local newspaper columnist was not sparing the reader with the words of concern for the safety of their shores and future of their economy.
Ecosystems of corral reefs protect the shorelines from surge of waters and provide habitat for fish, sponge, turtles, crustacea and many more life forms. We have all learned in the school about the importance of rich and biodiverse reef and dangers of break down of diversity of life form.
UH! What to make of this all?
And than -THE A-HA- moment strikes you!
In the life you have left far behind, in a busy, city you work in a busy research laboratory.
Other people research noble subjects such as genetic mutations, mechanisms of antibiotics resistance, metalloproteinases or calcium channels, and you research human stool.
As a new science graduate this new emerging filed drew you in with magnetic force of curiosity to study trillions of microbial cells of microorganisms that live in human gut .
How many trillions of cells are there ? How do they interact between themselves and the human body? What happens to their metabolic products ? How does food that we eat affect their activity? Are we obese because we eat too much or because of our gut bacteria ? Fascinated by the scientific questions you work in the laboratory tirelessly finding out more and more and publishing newly discovered data for the whole world to see and learn. Last year your article published in a prestigious scientific journal created lots of ripples in the field. It was about the effects of dysbiosis on general body health. Pioneering article.
Dysbiosis is bacterial imbalance on or inside the body. Just like corral reef. Too few fish and a rare sponge. In the gut- too few of one bacterial kind , too many of the other. To function with full protective force this microbial organ within our gut must be abundant in its own ecosystem species. Deprived of variety or number it is like a machine with broken parts. Will it work to its full designed potential?
At long last you get to go on a long deserved vacation. Who knew that a surprise awaited you there?
Trying to escape from your research laboratory and dysbiotic microbiome you encounter another version of dysbiotic life form, dying corral reef.
You close the local newspaper,fold it neatly in your beach bag and get ready to go back on the cruise ship. In few days you will be back home, refreshed and eager to go back to work and discover the solution to preservation of all life form in all of its variety in every of the habitats it inhabits . Including us ,humans.