Sequence #1: So What’s Up With The Microbiome?

Published: May 30th 2018

The microbiome is a hot topic these days, embraced by research scientists and the media alike.  The microbiome refers to all the microorganisms and their collective genetic material that reside in human beings and other animals, plants, soil, and water.  These communities of ‘microbial flora’ have always been with us but we’re just beginning to understand the role they play in everything from human health to mining and agriculture. 

We know, for example, that not all microbes are equal.  Some are harmful, some benign and some essential for the health of their hosts.  Microbes can boost our immune systems and our natural resources – but maintaining a healthy microbiome is a balancing act that can be thrown out of whack by factors like diet(in humans) and chemicals (in soil and water). 

This issue of Sequence explores the new frontier of the microbiome. We’ll go behind the scenes with scientists on the cutting edge of human microbiome research, meet a hard-working sequencing facility that’s a hit with genetic researchers near and far, and see why microbes are the Midas touch for gold extraction, a better tool for cleaning oil spills, and the magic in making better wines.