Microbe of the Month Trivia Challenge — Makeup Bonus Question — Warning! Very Difficult Question Ahead

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It has come to my attention that the microbe of the month trivia challenge was structured in an unfair way. Awarding the prize to the “first” to answer correctly gave an advantage based on work schedule. I apologize for that oversight and in order to make amends I am presenting an additional trivia challenge for this month only.

Fair warning. This is a very difficult challenge. There may be more than one “correct” answer. In fact there may not be an absolutely “right” or “wrong” answer. Therefore the winner of this challenge will be the person who provides the most reasoned, scientifically supported arguments, preferably based on published data from the scientific literature. Other web-based sources may be referenced as well but they will carry less weight. All that said….here it is.

Many introductory microbiology textbooks and much of the popular microbiological literature often cite this common factoid: There are ten times as many microorganisms on and in the human body as cells that make up the body.

Your challenge is simple. Is that statement accurate or not? If so or if not, why or why not? In order to win the prize your answer will need to follow all of the guidelines outlined above.

To get you started have a look at this article.


The article makes some very good points but it also overlooks a number of related but important issues that may impact the accuracy of the ten to one factoid. Here are some hints.

· Bacteria are not the only microorganisms by a long shot

· The outside and inside of the body are very different ecological niches

You have until October 15 to submit your answers so good luck! Since this is such a tough challenge the prize will be very special indeed!

Kind regards,

Daniel R. DeMarco, Ph.D.

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