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In this podcast, Meagan Rubel, Department of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, discusses some of the exciting new research in anthropology as it pertains to the microbiome.

With a Ph.D. in molecular anthropology, Rubel is keenly interested in evolution and adaptation in humans. She studies how diet, survival practices, and environments are related to genetic variation, as well as general health and phenotypic adaptation. Focused on the gut microbiome and parasitic worms, her detailed analysis of select African groups has produced some interesting findings.

The Ph.D. provides an overview of health biomarkers, specifically detailing her work in Botswana. She states that a normal microbiome is often context-dependent, and she follows that by citing examples of varied microbiomes. Rubel discusses microbial diversity that can sometimes be lost because of changing diets and variations of activities, which can affect bacteria composition.

Wrapping up, Rubel explains how air pollution, reduction in pathogens, and the dramatic improvements in the overall standard of living that exist in our modern society have impacted bacteria and health.

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