Ecology and Evolution of the Skin Microbiome
Like the microbiome at other human body sites, the human skin microbiome is remarkably diverse. Unlike our other microbiomes, the skin microbiome is in intimate contact with our physical environment, leading to a bidirectional transfer of microbes. Here I describe some of the functions of the human skin microbiome, how it and its complex chemical repertoire differ from that of other animals that have been studied including chimpanzees, dogs, amphibians and reptiles, and what we are starting to learn about how microbiomes evolve into specialized evolutionary niches. The findings have important implications for the idea that modern techniques such as antibiotics and C-sections, and keeping ourselves too sealed in energy-efficient buildings and cars, may contribute to immunological problems by cutting us off from the rich microbial environment with which we have coevolved.