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Why Dirt Helps Wounds Heal

In the field, some practitioners will pack an open wound with black soil to help it heal. You can get black peat that is used for this purpose and others. It is not pasteurized or sterilized in any way; it is full of living organisms. After the battle of Shiloh in the US civil war, soldiers whose wounds glowed in the dark had better survival. The organism (Photorhabdus luminescens) that was growing in their wounds came from the guts of nematodes living in the soil. Presumably this organism outcompeted the pathogenic ones. This kind of antibiotic mechanism cannot be ignored when antibiotic drugs are increasing ineffective.


Nematodes hunt down insect larvae in the soil or on plant surfaces, burrow into their bodies, and take up residence in their blood vessels. There, they puke up the P. luminescens bacteria living inside them. Upon their release, the bacteria, which are bioluminescent and glow a soft blue, begin producing a number of chemicals that kill the insect host and suppress and kill all the other microorganisms already inside it. This leaves P. luminescens and their nematode partner to feed, grow and multiply without interruptions.

As the worms and the bacteria eat and eat and the insect corpse is more or less hollowed out, the nematode eats the bacteria. This isn’t a double cross, but part of the move to greener pastures. The bacteria re-colonize the nematode’s guts so they can hitch a ride as it bursts forth from the corpse in search of a new host.

The next meal shouldn’t be hard to find either, since P. luminescens already sent them an invitation to the party. Just before they got got back in their nematode taxi, P. luminescens were at critical mass in the insect corpse, and scientists think that that many glowing bacteria attract other insects to the body and make the nematode’s transition to a new host much easier.


SOURCE
http://mentalfloss.com/article/30380/why-some-civil-war-soldiers-glowed-dark

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