June 17, 2017
As discussed in the article Biosphere & the Microbiome, every living organism is surrounded by a set of specific microbiota that comprise its microbiome. Until fairly recently, it was largely unclear what exactly the true function and importance of an organism’s microbiome was. After analyzing why a human needs a microbiome and how grain microbiota can support human microbiome health, we take an in-depth look at the role that grain microbiota plays, where it’s located within grain, and why it exists in these particular locations. We examine how grain microbiota enters our bodies and helps directly support our microbiome as an ideal probiotic and prebiotic complex.
We also explore the crucial role bacteria play in vitamin synthesis in food chains, a novel concept in biology.
SUPPORTS GRAIN GROWTH
AND PLANT LIFE
PROVIDES BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS/VITAMINS
FOR EUKARYOTES THROUGH FOOD CHAINS
NATURALLY SUPPORTS THE
To begin, let’s review the summary of the microbiome’s function from Biosphere & the Microbiome.
Eukaryote: a multicellular organism, like humans, animals and plants that are hosts for microbiomes
Prokaryote: simpler, one-celled bodies like bacteria that preceded eukaryotes in evolution, and make up microbiomes
While it’s alive, microbiota optimizes the life processes of its host eukaryote by helping it efficiently digest food, synthesize vitamins and bioactive compounds. During evolution, specific microorganisms adapted to its specific host metabolism, allowing microbiota to directly communicate with host body cells. Through cell communication, microbiota is even able to influence organ and body function, too. Impacting body function is critical for integrating the host into the biosphere.
Through these processes, microbiota supports its host by influencing its behavior within food chains so that it consumes the correct food and produces usable output for the next food chain member. Optimizing host behavior allows for better ecosystem regulation of participating species, promoting symbiotic relationships, and resisting entropy and ecosystem destruction.
The grain microbiome contains two sets of bacteria: environmental external and integrated internal.
External grain microbiota comes from its environment and could include 4 types of microorganisms: potentially beneficial saprophytes that uphold grain and plant health, opportunistic saprophytes that activate upon grain destruction, phytopathogenic microorganisms that cause plant disease, and pathogenic microorganisms from dust that cause human disease. These may be accidental and reflect the environment in which the grain was grown, produced and stored. This set of bacteria can be washed away from the grain surface.
Internal grain microbiota exists within layers of the pericarp and the membrane that separates the germ from the endosperm (Fig. 1). These microorganisms cannot be easily washed out as they are embedded within the grain. This is the most important and beneficial grain microbiota that comprise the grain’s microbiome as it helps facilitate and optimize the grain’s life processes. Some of these bacteria are aerobic (require oxygen) and some are anaerobic (require an oxygen-less atmosphere, as oxygen is toxic for them). In dormant grain, all aerobic and anaerobic bacteria remain inactive until germination and can survive drastic environmental changes including high and low temperatures, radiation and dry conditions for many years.
The internal microbiota is diverse, but several bacteria strains have been characterized including Pseudomonadaceae, Micrococcaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Bacillaceae, Actinobacteria families as well as Enterobacteriaceae and Saccharomycetale yeast (simple eukaryotes).
Let’s examine the role of grain microbiota in:
SUPPORTS GRAIN GROWTH
AND PLANT LIFE
PROVIDES BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS/VITAMINS
FOR EUKARYOTES THROUGH FOOD CHAINS
NATURALLY SUPPORTS THE
Germination is the activation of a grain’s life and consists of 3 main phases:
Grain soaks in water and increases twice in volume and weight
Weight and volume stay the same, grain repairs itself and determines whether is grows or dies
The grain’s radicle protrudes and elongates until it’s 1-1.5 times the length of the grain, and the grain enters its most biochemically active period
Phase 1 is the inaugural phase of germination in which a grain begins to soak and increase in size, regardless of whether its embryo is healthy enough for plant growth. Water moves from the grain environment into the grain to rehydrate its contents.
Simultaneously, grain begins to exude dozens of molecular elements into its surrounding environment that form its spermosphere. The spermosphere completely surrounds the grain in a ~5mm wide buffer, the grain’s safety zone. The spermosphere zone contains elements exuded by the grain that support friendly microbiota activity. Both the grain exudates and friendly microbiota suppress or destroy pathogenic microorganism growth to form a favorable external grain microbiome. The spermosphere is like a nursery - an adapted environment conditioned to support ideal growth. The destruction or removal of the spermosphere subjects the grain to pathogenic microorganism attack and destruction, and the grain usually dies.
During plant development, the spermosphere that surrounds the root growth travels underground with the root and forms the microbiota of the underground plant. The bacteria in the surrounding soil environment also plays a vital role in the development of the root microbiome. Just like humans, who require an input of correct microbiota from food to support a healthy microbiome, plants also require friendly bacteria from the soil to form theirs. The majority of the microbiota that comprise the root and underground microbiome are anaerobic or facultative anaerobic microorganisms. These bacteria are the main source of group B vitamins for the plant, since the plant cannot produce all required vitamins itself. Vitamins are the active component of most life-supporting plant enzymes.
The spermosphere that surrounds plant growth travels upward with the stem and forms the microbiome of the aboveground plant. The majority of this bacteria is aerobic and includes simple eukaryotes like yeasts.
Both aerobic and anaerobic microbiota of a healthy plant microbiome are vital in supporting plant health. Microorganisms help the plant utilize microelements for the organic synthesis of different macroelements. Plants provide bacteria with essential organic resources for growth, and in turn bacteria synthesize vitamins and other biologically active compounds for themselves and for plant use. For example, nitrogen-fixating bacteria on roots help the plant use atmospheric nitrogen for protein synthesis. In addition to supporting plant health, a correct plant microbiome protects the plant from external invasion from pathogenic microorganisms, insects or fungus.
When a growing plant begins to form its own grains, it transports essential aerobic microorganisms from the aboveground microbiome and vital anaerobic microorganisms with their vitamin complexes from the underground microbiome into the forming grains’ pericarp layers. This is why a grain’s husk contains such a high concentration of B vitamins.
Figure 3. The grain microbiome (including the spermosphere) is the foundation of the future plant’s microbiome. During the formation of new grain on a plant, the plant actively moves microbiota and its vitamin complexes into the forming grain. The same way that surviving genes are selected for transfer into new offspring in eukaryotes, beneficial plant microbiota are selected for transfer to new plants.
The plant transports its most beneficial and effective microorganisms into the forming grain, selecting the best friendly microorganisms for grain microbiota to form the future plant microbiome. These pre-selected microorganisms are also vital in correcting the human microbiome when we consume them.
Phase 1 prepares the grain for growth and establishes the spermosphere, and Phase 2 begins grain life. If the grain embryo is healthy enough, its microbiota continues to support life development. If the grain embryo is seriously damaged or dead, microbiota begin to dismember its host grain.
Grain that is healthy enough to proceed begins to activate existing life support systems and
Grain microbiota is vital to this activation as it produces active enzymes that help the grain begin utilizing the macronutrients (proteins, carbs and lipids) that are stored within the grain endosperm.
A developing grain holds its microbiota within the external spermosphere and within itself under control, regulating its proliferation. If the embryo dies, it is no longer able to regulate its microbiota proliferation and activity. The microbiome, lacking the embryo’s regulation, starts to use the grain’s resources as a source of food and consumes its host grain (See Figure 4B).
Phase 3 is the most biologically active phase of germination. The grain vigorously synthesizes bioactive compounds, active enzymes and prepares macro- and micronutrition for grain embryo use. The grain synthesizes several vitamins like vitamin C, E and tocopherols, but a vitally important source of B group vitamins can only be synthesized by the microbiota that live within the grain’s pericarp membranes.
It’s important to note that vitamins themselves do not have any enzymatic activity. They are a potentially vital resource for new active enzyme synthesis. Vitamins only begin to work in a living cell when integrated with its proper enzyme where they can act as a biochemical catalyst.
The B group vitamins synthesized by microbiota are a vital resource to grain growth and are used by grain cells for new active enzyme synthesis. The grain’s use of its microbiota’s vitamins takes resources away from microbiota, keeping microbiota growth under control. If the grain embryo fails to germinate and dies, the grain no longer takes vitamins away from microbiota, allowing microbiota to synthesize their own active enzymes that they use for uncontrolled growth and to consume the dead grain.
Figure 4 A shows the grain germ (embryo) and aleurone layer cells synthesizing enzyme bodies that integrate with previously accumulated bacteria-synthesized vitamins to form an active catalytic enzyme area within the enzyme body. The newly formed active grain enzymes participate in grain development by creating new bioactive molecules in the germ, and migrate to the endosperm to prepare micro- and macronutrients for grain use.
Figure 4 B shows that when a grain embryo is terminally damaged or dies, bacteria uses all available vitamins to synthesize their own active enzymes to use the grain embryo’s micro- and macronutrients for uncontrolled bacteria proliferation.
The life of a plant begins with the activation of a symbiotic partnership of grain and microbiota. The plant-microbiota partnership lasts for the entirety of the plant’s life, and the most beneficial selected plant microbiota is transported into new grains that live on for future plant generations.
The biosphere is a super-efficient system. It reuses basic blocks like amino acids, simple sugars, fatty acids and nucleotides between different organisms without breaking them down. One of these simple, but important building blocks that are transferred between species are vitamins.
There are two ways that vitamins are created: by prokaryotes (bacteria) and by eukaryote bodies themselves (animals, plants, humans). Bacteria are the main source of B group vitamins, which are synthesized by bacteria that live in eukaryotes’ microbiomes. Plant bodies are the main source of vitamins C, E, A and other vitamins associated with photosynthesis, which enter animal and human bodies directly when consumed.
Vitamins created by bacteria and plants cycle upward in food chains to organisms on higher levels. Vitamins accumulate in other eukaryotes we consume through bacteria that synthesize vitamins in their microbiomes, and partially through the eukaryote’s body itself. Moving up the chain from plant to predator, vitamin diversity accumulates in food intake, making the eukaryote less and less dependent on direct bacteria vitamin synthesis from their own microbiome. For this reason, humans only synthesize vitamins D and A, and receive the rest of our vitamins from plants or from animals that consumed plants containing vitamins. However, this is not completely true – the human microbiome plays a crucial role in vitamin support that is more comprehensive than we understood before.
Consuming whole, germinated grain provides both sources of necessary vitamins directly from the grain body, as well as the bacteria that synthesize the vitamins. If we trace the journey of vitamins, particularly B group vitamins, through most food chains, they almost all nearly start in grain and its microbiota. Grain is vital to creating the foundation of vitamin cycles for all eukaryotic members of an ecosystem.
In order to maintain human microbiome health, we must constantly receive beneficial microorganisms with our food.
A germinated grain is the ideal vessel for natural microbiota transfer and sowing into the human gut microbiome. Integrated internal grain microbiota located within its pericarp layers comprise an effective delivery system.
Figure 5. Aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are located within layers of the grain pericarp. The pericarp consists of insoluble and soluble fiber that protect and provide food for microbiota upon activation in the human gut. This grain pericarp and microbiota package is a natural, ideal delivery system for probiotics and prebiotics for human microbiome support.
Pericarp layers protect aerobic and anaerobic microbiota (probiotics) from digestion until the microbiota reaches its ideal destination and begins to activate. The pericarp layers contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber comprises a protective layer for microbiota and acts as a solid matrix for future bacterial colony formation. Soluble fiber acts an ideal food for microbiota colonies (prebiotic) that is especially designed for the entering beneficial microorganisms.
When a human begins to chew raw, germinating grain, the grain’s pericarp is broken up into optimally sized pieces for future microorganism distribution inside the digestive system.
The accidental external microbiota located on the surface of grain is not protected by pericarp layers, and most of them are killed by the stomach’s hydrochloric acid (Fig. 6 A).
The integrated internal grain microbiota and pericarp layer package travels into the small intestine, an ideal condition for aerobic bacteria. The aerobic bacteria activates and begins to proliferate using the water-soluble pericarp fiber as a custom food source and insoluble fiber as a matrix on which bacterial colonies are formed. The creation of these colonies is essential for healthy long-term bacteria habitation in the human gut microbiome (Fig. 6 B).
The grain microbiota and pericarp layer package containing protected dormant anaerobic bacteria travel past the stomach and small intestine into the large intestine. The large intestine contains low oxygen, which is an ideal environment for anaerobic bacteria. The dormant anaerobes activate upon entering the large intestine, and like the earlier aerobes, use the water-soluble pericarp fiber as an ideal food source and the insoluble fiber as a foundation on which to form bacteria colonies (Fig. 6 C).
Figure 6. Bacteria contained within grain pericarp is an ideal, natural source of probiotics and prebiotics for the human gut microbiome. Bacteria are imbedded within the layers of pericarp, which act as an ideal shelter for bacteria as they travel through gastric juice in the stomach. Aerobic bacteria activates in the small intestine, using insoluble fiber as a matrix on which to grow and soluble fiber as a food source. Anaerobic bacteria enters and activates within the large intestine and uses insoluble fiber as a matrix on which to grow and soluble fiber as a food source. Grain acts as an ideal package delivery system for evolutionarily preselected friendly microbiota.
These naturally organized aerobic and anaerobic bacterial communities that enter the digestive system through an ideal germinated grain package increase the success rate of bacteria integration and livelihood in the human gut microbiome. This is the most optimal, nature-controlled and evolutionarily proven process of delivering beneficial bacteria for gut microbiome support. This specific grain microbiota is also beneficial for the human microbiome as humans and grain have closely co-evolved together for centuries. We grew and adapted to grain and its bacteria, and it evolved and adapted to us. Friendly grain microbiota becomes integrated into the gut microbiome, improving microbiome function and pushing out unfriendly microorganisms that may have entered with a poor diet.
Grain microbiota contains a naturally diverse set of thousands microorganism species (probiotics) that are organized in an ideal microbiome-supportive delivery and food package (prebiotics). Probiotic pills and drinks, however, contain significantly fewer species of bacteria which are not naturally organized into appropriate matrices containing appropriate prebiotics. Probiotic pill bacteria have a much lower gut microbiome integration success rate as they do not have the naturally organized support that germinated grain bacteria do.
We have discovered that even a small addition of germinated grain into a modern diet helps significantly improve the state of the current microbiome and helps prevent the onset of microbiome-related disease.
The microbiomes of eukaryotes, including the human microbiome, is being actively and intensely studied and information regarding these topics is skyrocketing quickly. Soon, we will witness the creation of new technologies that increase human microbiome health and foods based on improving modern food quality to uphold human health.
Plant microbiota, and especially the selected grain microbiota is the most ideal and natural source for the support and correction of the human gut microbiome.