The study of microbes in human health traditionally focused on identifying and treating pathogens in patients, usually with antibiotics. The rise of antibiotic resistance and an increasingly dense—and mobile—global population is forcing a change in that paradigm.
Improvements in high-throughput sequencing, also called next-generation sequencing (NGS), allow a holistic approach to managing microbes in human health.
In and on the human body, microbes outnumber human cells 10 to 1.
These microbial cells constitute the human microbiome. Uncovering the members of the human microbiome, and their collective genes and functions, defines the role of our microbial communities in health and disease. This goal can only be accomplished by high-throughput sequencing technologies paired with powerful analytic tools.
Metagenomics is one of the fastest growing scientific disciplines, and it is becoming a central tool for improving the quality of life worldwide. Originally conceived as the collective genomes of nonculturable microorganisms, metagenomics now refers to the use of high-throughput DNA sequencing to provide taxonomic (“Who is there?”) and functional (“What are they doing?”) profiles of microbial communities without the need to culture the microbes in the laboratory. It is estimated that less than 2% of bacteria can be cultured in the laboratory. Our sudden ability to identify the previously unstudied 98% of microbes—whether they are prokaryotes, eukaryotes, or viruses—is revolutionizing and energizing the field of microbiology. This document highlights recent publications that apply Illumina sequencing technologies to metagenomics research…