As Monty Python would say…and now for something completely different…
One of my personal favorite blogs is Questioning Answers, written by a UK researcher, Paul Whiteley. Tuesday’s post kind of took me by, er…surprise: “The art of the gut microbiome: ‘Excretory Wipings” across 45+ years.”[i] You know the old expression, “Truth is Stranger than Fiction”? Well…
Apparently, an “artist” (and I put that in quotes since either my definition and his are vastly different…or else, we (meaning all of you, me, and everyone else on earth) are also artists, at least until we flush), Billy Apple, created a piece back in the 1970s that consisted of his toilet paper complete with his own hiney smearings. (Yes, you can see it here…should you be so inclined.)
You can’t make this stuff up.
Anyway, Dr. Whiteley was writing about it because researchers used this, um, whimsical piece of, um, art, to compare the artist’s microbiome over time. Bearing in mind that when the recent (2016) sample was taken, the Mr. Apple was suffering from diverticulitis, the researchers found that 45% of his microbial species were retained over the 45 year interval, but his level of Prevotella was higher (potentially associated with his bowel disease) and his levels of butyrate-producing bacteria (anti-inflammatory) were lower.[ii]
As Dr. Whiteley says, it would be very interesting to follow people’s biomes over time, especially while also following their health, life circumstances, etc. to see all the many correlations.
Some interesting questions to contemplate: where has“Excretory Wipings” been displayed the last 4+ decades? And…at what price has his piece been valued? I mean, I could use some extra cash.
[ii] Jayasinghe TN. et al. Long-term stability in the gut microbiome over 46 years in the life of Billy Apple®. Human Microbiome Journal. 2017; 5-6: 7-1