Lesson 6: Microbiome disturbance

What can happen when my microbiome is disturbed?

Integrating concepts from previous lessons, this lesson extends students’ thinking to consider what would happen to the composition of microbes in the human gut if a disturbance occurred. Building on ideas of microbial ecosystems, and the roles of microbes in the human body, students investigate a clinical trial in which patients with C. difficile infections (CDI) are treated with two different antibiotics. Students study data that show how the infection and antibiotics affect microbial communities in the human gut and how the disturbances connect to the recurrence rate of infection. Students then use their interpretations of the data as evidence to make and support conclusions about the best course of treatment for CDI. Finally, students further apply concepts of ecosystem dynamics and human-microbe interactions to compare two different approaches to treatment of bacterial infections: antibiotics and fecal transplants.

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