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Home > Press > Scientists call for new tools to explore the world's microbiomes

Understanding microbiomes — human and otherwise — will require a suite of advanced new tools. 
Credit: xrender/iStock/Thinkstock
Understanding microbiomes — human and otherwise — will require a suite of advanced new tools.

Credit: xrender/iStock/Thinkstock

Abstract:
In October, an interdisciplinary group of scientists proposed forming a Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI) to explore the world of microorganisms that are central to life on Earth and yet largely remain a mystery. An article in the journal ACS Nano describes the tools scientists will need to understand how microbes interact with each other and with us.

Scientists call for new tools to explore the world's microbiomes

Washington, DC | Posted on January 7th, 2016

Microbes live just about everywhere: in the oceans, in the soil, in the atmosphere, in forests and in and on our bodies. Research has demonstrated that their influence ranges widely and profoundly, from affecting human health to the climate. But scientists don't have the necessary tools to characterize communities of microbes, called microbiomes, and how they function. Rob Knight, Jeff F. Miller, Paul S. Weiss and colleagues detail what these technological needs are.

The researchers are seeking the development of advanced tools in bioinformatics, high-resolution imaging, and the sequencing of microbial macromolecules and metabolites. They say that such technology would enable scientists to gain a deeper understanding of microbiomes. Armed with new knowledge, they could then tackle related medical and other challenges with greater agility than what is possible today.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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About American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Contacts:
Michael Bernstein

202-872-6042

Rob Knight, Ph.D.
Departments of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093


or

Jeff F. Miller, Ph.D.
California NanoSystems Institute
and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095


or

Paul S. Weiss, Ph.D.
California NanoSystems Institute
and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Copyright © American Chemical Society

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