Bacteria of champions

Karl Kruszelnicki in ABC News:

It’s not just their ability to run 42 kilometres that separates marathon runners from the rest of us. They’ve got a secret energy source hidden deep inside: a special bacteria in their gut turns a painful waste material into energy. No doping scandal required!

Now if you’ve been following the latest trends in Science for a while, you might remember that about a decade ago, there was a sudden spike of interest in gut bacteria. We had begun to realise just how important the bacteria that live on us, and inside us, actually were. And now, the latest surprising research suggests that these gut bacteria can even help you win a marathon!

But first, a bit of background. You probably know by now that you started off when an egg cell was fertilized by a sperm cell. And by now, there are about 37 trillion cells in your body that all arose from that first fertilized egg cell! Now 37 trillion is a lot of cells — but your body is also home to even more bacterial cells! That’s right – about 40 trillion bacteria live on your skin, inside your gut, and in a few other places. These bacteria are a lot smaller than your human cells, so in total, they weigh only a kilogram or so.

More here.