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  • babies usually don't get kidney stones.

  • In 2008 16 kids in one Chinese province did, and it was a sign that something was really wrong.

  • A milk supplier for infant formula played a very dangerous game.

  • They watered down the milk to make more profit to get the deluded milk to pass the quality and safety tests.

  • They added melamine.

  • But melamine is not a food ingredient.

  • Melamine is a chemical used to make plastic countertops used to make flooring used to make fertilisers.

  • It has no place in food.

  • This dangerous practice is called food adulteration.

  • The perpetrators thought no one would notice, but they were dead wrong.

  • Six infants die.

  • 50,000 babies were hospitalized.

  • 300,000 kids got sick.

  • If you think it can't happen here, think again.

  • Our food supply is global.

  • What if there had been a way to know that something was wrong with the milk without knowing exactly what to look for?

  • What if food could talk?

  • What if food is talking right now and we just need to learn how to listen?

  • I think the food is talking through the harmless microbes that live on food, and they could have a lot to tell us about the quality and the safety of the things that we eat.

  • I know that food safety is a multidimensional problem.

  • But as an engineer and as a parent, I believe that strong detection technology and specifically decoding the food microbiome could be a way to prevent the next food adulteration scandal.

  • So what's the microbiome?

  • The microbiome is a community of microbes, often living in harmony with a host like a person.

  • And far from being a nuisance, Microbiome is played key roles in the health of people, plants and animals.

  • Your microbiome is your normal flora, and it makes you stronger.

  • Now I'm suggesting we can use microbes to get information, and this is just the next chapter in a long history of people using microbes to do useful stuff for us.

  • People have been brewing beer since the dawn of wheeled transportation 3500 BC.

  • So from then all the way up until the 19 seventies, we developed a new capability.

  • Biotech is about using microbes to manufacture chemicals like insulin, and now today we're taking biotech into a digital era where we use microbes to get information, and this enables a radical idea.

  • Why not use the food microbiome as a natural built in sensor to tell us when food is unsafe?

  • The N a sequencing is how this is happening.

  • And using DNA sequencing, we can tap into the collective intelligence of microbes as they go about their daily business.

  • Just sensing and responding to the environment, let me show you.

  • The microbiome is a community of microbes, and from their DNA, researchers can identify and count them.

  • The relative abundance of the microbes in the community depends at least partially on nutrients and chemicals in the environment.

  • A change in the environment can cause a change in the community, where by some microbes are happier and some are less satisfied.

  • If anything in the environment a chemical, a nutrient, a new organism causes the microbiome to re balance itself.

  • Then we can detect that re balancing in the DNA.

  • If we have a baseline measurement, we can detect a change from baseline.

  • Now the DNA tells us not only the identities of these microbes.

  • It tells us what they're doing by virtue of their genes.

  • Let me give you an example.

  • Heavy metals like mercury and lead our chemicals and soil and water baker naturally, and they also incur from industrial pollution.

  • They're absorbed by plants and animals, and they accumulate as you go up the food chain.

  • Chronic exposure to even low levels causes neurological deficits, some forms of cancer, so guess what?

  • Heavy metals are hazardous to microbes.

  • But intriguingly, some microbes evolved mechanisms to tolerate them, including a variety of pumps that export the medals from the cell like a bouncer at the bar.

  • If they can accumulate inside, they can't cause damage.

  • So we ask the question.

  • How many genes for heavy metals pumps do Microbiome?

  • Sze typically have we counted these genes in thousands of microbiome sampled from many types of habitats, including animal habitats, human soil and water habitats.

  • Each data point is an entire microbiome.

  • Large values on the vertical mean that the microbiome has many genes for heavy metals pumps, and this happens when a microbe with a lot of these genes makes up a large fraction of its community.

  • Now, counting the genes that confer heavy metals tolerance is like listening for a d.

  • N.

  • A echo of the heavy metals in the environment.

  • This is just one of many abilities that microbes can perform and that we can profile so we can do this exercise for many more abilities and build up a fingerprint for each microbiome.

  • The fingerprint tells if the microbiome is the same or different from baseline with respect to what it can.

  • D'oh.

  • So, for example, if a microbiome fingerprint changes with respect to key indicators associated with soil chemistry, then one might infer that a crop was grown in a different geography than before.

  • You tell me this rice is from India, but it's microbiome looks a lot more like rice from Pakistan.

  • That's the kind of insight into supply chains that could be possible with the Microbiome fingerprint of food.

  • Translating the microbiome it of food safety is very early stage research, But even so right now, we can use our current knowledge of biology with pattern recognition algorithms to determine when a microbiome is the same or different from a baseline.

  • Now, how the Microbiome test for milk existed in 2008 it could have raised a red flag.

  • If the melamine happened to kick the microbial community out of balance, then that could have been detected.

  • This one is different.

  • This one's not like all the others.

  • Wake up, pay attention wherever our understanding of the microbiome takes us.

  • One thing is certain.

  • Humanity is once again redefining its relationship with microbes.

  • We are entering a digital age for biotech, where we use microbes to gather information, create knowledge and make better decisions.

  • The microbes on food are talking.

  • Let's listen to them.

  • Thank you.

babies usually don't get kidney stones.


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食べ物の中の微生物が命を救う|ロバート・プリル|TED Institute (The microbes in our food can save lives | Robert Prill | TED Institute)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日