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Microbes, Microbes Everywhere

The Human Microbiome Project Consortium has borne fruit — 14 new studies have been published in Nature, Genome Biology, and in a number of PLoS journals by large multidisciplinary groups of researchers across the US mapping the microbiomes of healthy human beings, says the Broad Institute in a press release. The studies aim to describe what kinds of microbes are found in healthy people and what their purposes are. Samples were taken from up to 18 body sites from hundreds of people, including the airways, skin, mouth, digestive tract, and vagina. The researchers then isolated DNA from the samples and sequenced the 16S RNA from the microbes, then sequenced all the microbial DNA to create a metagenome sequence.

"The composition of these microbial communities, or microbiota, was surprisingly diverse and abundant," the Broad says. "In addition, microbes can vary widely not just from site to site on a single person but also from person to person, with certain body sites being more predictable than others." Despite the differences, however, the overall communities of microbes in different people performed many of the same tasks, the release adds. The next step is to use this information to determine how microbes affect disease and how they could be used to treat a variety of illnesses.

Daily Scan's sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on these studies here.

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