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Diminishing global biodiversity is a major concern. Loss of diversity at the microbial level is of immediate importance to human health. Symbiotic microbiota and environmental microorganisms and their genes play crucial roles in human physiology that we are only just beginning to explore. This website concentrates on the “education” of the immune system, but we know that microorganisms also play significant roles in the development of most organ systems (including the brain), and in metabolism and regulation of energy balance. Moreover a large percentage (20-30% ??) of small molecules in peripheral blood are of microbial origin, and we have barely begun to understand the multiple roles that these molecules play. If we lose microbial biodiversity we will almost certainly encounter new health problems of which we currently have no understanding.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has produced a remarkable review of biodiversity and human health, as described below. I have contributed to the chapter on microorganisms
The Convention on Biological Diversity together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has generated the document of which the cover page is seen on the right. This document is 364 pages, with 16 chapters on all aspects of the importance of biodiversity to human health.

Chapter 8, starting on page 150, has the title “Environmental microbial diversity and noncommunicable diseases”.
G. Rook and R. Knight were lead authors, and there was also input from the CBD and other organisations. Chapter 8 can be downloaded here, but I would strongly advise readers to download the whole document (about 5MB) from the CBD website. It is freely available to anyone who is interested.
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