Colab seminar

Microbiome Stewardship: From individual health to collective environmental vision

Professor Kieran C. O’Doherty

In many countries there is increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses attributed to dysbiosis of human microbiomes. The causes for microbiome dysbiosis vary. Although our decisions as individuals have some impact, to a large extent microbiomes are shaped by environmental and macro-social factors. It is our actions as a society that lead to environmental pollution, industrial food production, and guidelines for anti-biotic use, all of which profoundly affect collective and individual human microbiomes. Microbes, by their nature, are shared across humans, and between humans and the environments in which we live. This suggests that we need a collective vision and principles that would act to coordinate and guide societal efforts to ensure healthy microbiome environments.

The concept of microbiome stewardship has been proposed to recognise our shared microbial environment as a common good that needs to be protected and nurtured. Successful implementation of microbiome stewardship would have important implications at the level of individual, community, public, and global health. In this presentation, I begin with an overview of some of the human health issues that have been associated with microbiome dysbiosis and present the case for microbiome stewardship as a collective social responsibility. I explore some of the intersections of microbiome stewardship with diverse policy domains. I also discuss microbiome stewardship as a social equity issue, with particular attention to Indigenous perspectives.

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