Could Microbes in Dirt Be the Answer to All Our Medical Problems?


Dirt: It's brown, full of worms and when it gets wet, it turns to mud — YUCK!

But did you know that science might one day use it to cure a host of infectious diseases and even cancer?  

Scientists from the University of Oklahoma are asking people from around the United States to send in samples of dirt from their own backyards with the hope that fungi cultured from the ground could hold the magic bullet against diseases. 

"If you pick up an average handful of soil, you've literally got tens of thousands of microbes living in it," University of Oklahoma professor, Robert Cichewicz, told local KFOR. "When the dirt comes in, we culture the fungi out of those soil samples. We grow them up into a form that we can then extract the molecules and test them against these different disease targets.


It's not the first time science has sought magical cure-alls from the Earth. 

In January, researchers in Canada, suggested that a rare clay found in British Columbia could be the key to defeating antibiotic resistant bacteria. Indeed, the very first antibiotics, were derived from fungus by Alexander Flemming in the 1920s. 

Now for the hard part!

Shipping all that dirt around the country doesn't come cheap. The university is hoping to raise $15,000 in donations to cover the cost of shipping and handling for soil collection kits so that participants don't have to front the postage themselves.  

Read more: This Rare Clay Used by Indigenous People Could Trump All Your Fancy Science, Says Science