This Weisella p., however, is very special. Unlike traditional probiotics, it does not come from a known lab strain cloned for years. The culture was isolated from a spec of soil obtained from a 300-year old planter in Langa in 2020. The soil was first hydrated with distilled water and a small aliquot was spread over a petri dish that included nutrients preferred by probiotic microorganisms. In a few days, many organisms appeared on the dish in the form of colonies. The colonies were then sent for identification where their DNA was extracted and analyzed through genetic sequencing, by comparing the genes of our samples with samples from other databases to see if there is a match with a previously known organism.
I am only 85% confident that what we saw growing on the dish is in fact Weissella p. Even with multiple rounds of DNA sequencing, we only had partial confidence that our sample was an exact match with Weisella p. In Microbiology low or high confidence have different consequences. In our case, a high confidence score was necessary to be able to get it approved for safe consumption as some strains of Weisella are known to be harmful to human health.
Having 85% confidence that this Weisella is the species paramesenteroides allowed us to ask a biotech company in Istanbul to mass produce it. The process is akin to brewing beer, where the organisms are grown in big metal reactors into tens of liters. The liquid then got lyophilized and mixed with the dextrose for shelf stability.
I believe that my interviewer, Weisella p., lives inside my gut. We may never exactly know how much Weisella p. is Weisella or how much Weisella p. is part of “my” body. Or where exactly my human cells, Weisella p. and the other microorganisms live in my gut.
In practice, it is really hard to know who is interviewing whom.
But, I would like to trust my gut on this one. Instead of claiming an “I” or “we“, as subjects of this interview, I will refer to “us” as a body, a place, an experience. Like Langa.
This is not a typical interview where the so-called “I” can tune into clear prompts or questions. Like most interviews with non-humans, there will be some element of imagination or “humansplaining”. Being interviewed by a non-human is already not easy feat. No interviewee may succeed to report what exactly happened. The texts may never be read similar to a human-to-human interview, where both parties are custom to use the same language.
Language forces the human mind to externalize, fictionalize, and speak on behalf of the non-human interviewer even if they might be speaking clearly and loudly in their own language.
In this case, Weisella p. might be asking in their chemical language. While some parts of my body can interpret, feel, or respond to it on a cellular level—the so-called Orkan, who is writing, may fail to translate the experience into English.