What Are Normal Flora & Transient Flora? - Definitions

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  • 0:01 What is Flora?
  • 0:24 Normal Flora
  • 1:23 Transient Flora
  • 2:01 Skin Flora
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn about the major difference between normal and transient flora, as well as a couple examples of each and how all this applies day to day.

What Is Flora?

In any given city there are those who live there permanently and those that are just passing through. It's interesting to note that on the human body, the same basic concept occurs with respect to flora, the collection of microorganisms inhabiting a person. There are two types of flora, normal flora and transient flora. Let's distinguish between the two and showcase some examples of each.

Normal Flora

Normal (resident) flora are microorganisms that are always present on or in a person and usually do not cause any disease. These are like the permanent residents of a city; they're not just passing through! Depending on what part of the body we're talking about, the normal flora can vary. For instance, on the skin, normal flora is made up of bacteria such as staphylococci. In the mouth, bacteria called streptococci can be found.

Just like the normal residents of a city like to keep their city in order, resident flora typically do not cause problems to the person. However, just like some people take advantage of a city and its residents when it's weak by committing crimes, some resident flora are potential opportunistic pathogens. What that big term means is that these microorganisms lay low and cause no trouble when the person is healthy. However, as soon as they sense the person is sick with another serious problem, they strike to cause a disease of their own.

Transient Flora

While cities have permanent residents, they also have visitors. This is like transient flora, episodic microorganisms found on or in a person. Some of these guys cause no trouble, like tourists passing through a city, while others are most definitely trouble, like terrorists coming into a city to wreak havoc.

Let me give you some concrete examples. Transient microorganisms, like the yeast Candida, can cause vaginitis, while Norovirus is a contagious virus that can give you the stomach flu. It's not found in your gut on a normal basis, but if you eat or drink it in your food, you might feel pretty bad for a few days.

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