Summary of the chapter

Microbiota today: the legacy of René Dubos

Alvaro Daschner

René Dubos, was a microbiologist and humanist who between the 40’s and 70’s of the last century performed a series of relevant experiments to show that the intestinal flora (microbiota) is essential for the proper development of living organisms, health and the prevention of infections. When the microbial theory of disease was established in the 19th Century, the concept of a specific cause for diseases was given, according to this author, too much priority in medical research programs, leaving aside the total environment and ecological perspective, whose understanding has proved to be fundamental to the knowledge of disease susceptibility, not only of infections.

Even so, the proposed ideas seem to have been forgotten until the new techniques of metagenomic sequencing have reopened the interest for that ecological vision, co-evolution and relationship between the host and multiple microorganisms. If in Evolutionary Medicine one of the study fields is the adaptation ability of organisms, R. Dubos can be considered one of the early (unrecognized) thinkers in this field.

Without underestimating new knowledge through new tools, they are currently re-evoking ideas that already existed, but they remained in the background for a long time when research with a reductionist vision still predominates. If we are aware of the role of recurrent ideas over time, we will approach the interpretation of scientific advances with more openness.

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