How cheese can help explain today's White House microbiome announcement

A photograph of Swiss cheese

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced today a new National Microbiome Initiative to encourage scientists to work together to study microbes — and the collections of microbes called microbiomes — across disciplines. The goal is to get a better understanding of these little critters that live everywhere — from the soil we plant crops in, to the oceans we swim in, to our very own digestive systems.

And it's not just understanding them. Scientists want to know enough to be able to affect different outcomes by tinkering with microbiomes.

Need an example to make it more concrete? So did we. So ASU Now sat down with Ferran Garcia-Pichel, the founding director of ASU's Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics.

And we found understanding of the mysterious — and tiny, obviously — world of microbiomes in of all places, a block of cheese.

More Science and technology


Buffalo in an open landscape surrounded by mountains.

New study captures 6M years of African mammal fossil history

The East African Rift Valley is a fossil-rich area, reaching across Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, that preserves the most complete record of human evolution anywhere in the world — including the 3.2-…

Man smiling and holding a model of the moon.

55 years of lunar exploration continued by SESE professor

On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin famously took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when they became the first individuals to ever set foot on the moon. Fifty-five…

Older person seen from behind, seated in a wheelchair in a bedroom, looking out a window.

When skeletons hold secrets: ASU project helps identify hidden elder abuse

When the death of an older adult is considered suspicious, their body is sent to the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner. The agency is required by law to investigate deaths…