When we look in the mirror we see what appears to be a discrete organism. We look at plants and animals and see them as unique and individual players in the planet’s ecosystem. But there is a silent and invisible partner that immerses these organisms, and our biology is intertwined. It was present on Earth before us and will likely survive us. Complex life forms have evolved in tandem with it, and it has shaped our evolution as a synergistic companion. It constantly interacts with us and pervades almost every conceivable habitat on our planet, including our bodies. And for the most part, it is our ally. It is microbial life.

Have you ever thought about the number of microbes, including bacteria and fungi, in the human body? The microbial cells in your body number in the trillions, and have been estimated to rival the number of human cells. Are these microbes merely separate organisms

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