Scientific Article

“Love is a microbe too”: Microbiome dialectics


Whereas the Human Genome Project was an anthropocentric research endeavour, microbiome research entails a much more interactive and symbiotic view of human existence, seeing human beings as holobionts, a term coined by Lynn Margulis to emphasise the interconnectedness and multiplicity of organisms. In this paper, building on previous authors, a dialectical perspective on microbiome research will be adopted, striving to supersede the ontological divide between self and other, humans and microbes, and to incorporate the microbiome as a crucial dimension of human existence, not only corporally, but also in terms of mood and cognition. On the practical level, microbiome insights promise to offer opportunities for self-care and self-management, allowing us to consciously interact with our microbiome to foster wellness and health. How to distinguish realistic scenarios from hype? Here again, an interactive (dialectical) approach is adopted, arguing that practices of the self should result from mutual learning between laboratory research and life-world experience.

View on Endeavour!

Hub Zwart, “Love is a microbe too”: Microbiome dialectics, Endeavour, Volume 46, Issues 1–2, 2022.

Modeling microbiota-associated human diseases: from minimal models to complex systems
The European CSA Human Microbiome Action (2021-2024)