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Alejandro Reyes, Associate Professor, Microbiologist and MSc in Biological Sciences, the University of the Andes, discusses microbes and the importance of gut health.

Podcast Points:

  • How do viruses affect the gut?
  • What is a phage?
  • How does the microbiome impact our health?


Reyes holds a PhD in Computational and Systems Biology at Washington University in San Luis, MO, United States. Reyes discusses his background and work, and his more than ten years of research studying the microbiome.

Reyes’s work is focused on Applied Computational Biology, in the development of many tools that can be used for the analysis of data that is derived from current technologies of optical studies, such as genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, etc. for the characterization and classification of microbial communities and their interactions with the environment.

He is interested in applications that can be applied to human health outcomes. He discusses viruses and the microbiome in detail, touching on the many viruses that may not make you sick, but stay with you nonetheless, over time.

The microbiologist discusses what he specifically studies, regarding the microbiome, detailing information on phages. Bacteriophages, commonly referred to as simply, phages, are the most plentiful organisms within the biosphere. They are an ever-present feature of prokaryotic existence. A bacteriophage, specifically speaking, is a virus that infects a bacterium.

Viruses, as we know often infect bacteria, are perhaps the most diverse components of the biosphere, genetically speaking. And the characterizing of phage diversity within the human gut is creating a buzz in the science community in regard to how we view ourselves as supra-organisms. Reyes discusses phage therapy in detail, and he talks about how phages are triggered, providing information on bacteria and how they sacrifice themselves.

Reyes continues his discussion by providing information on his thoughts regarding cell attachment. Additionally, he discusses phage population, and some other studies they conducted, and he states there is so much that they still must learn about viruses, genes, and phages.

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