National Institutes of Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Internet-Based Tools for Teaching the Microbiome
A microbiome is all of the genetic material found within an individual microbe such as a bacterium, fungal cell, or virus. It also may refer to the collection of genetic material found in a community of microbes that live together. Also see: Microbiome from The Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms
Working project websites for microbiome research and studies
This is a proposed massively multidisciplinary effort to analyze microbial communities across the globe. The site contains links on project goals, how people can get involved, and even contains protocols and standards. There is a link to a Microbe article about this project below.
Since this is the website for the Microbiome Research Consortia it contains links to various other sites (some of which we have here) and websites of individual labs involved in the project. The paragraphs at the bottom contain useful definitions.
There are numerous ethical issues involved in research on the totality of microbes involving human beings. A commonly expressed fear is that genetic information will in some way be used to harm people. The harms often identified include a loss of privacy resulting in discrimination. In this link both of these issues are examined in the article. Confidentiality is a crucial component of the physician/patient relationship and needs to be respected and upheld in all genomic medicine.
Written by Jack A. Gilbert and Folker Meyer for the March 2012 issue of Microbiome Magizine, this story about the Earth Microbiome Project was published by the American Society for Microbiology. This article details the efforts to characterize the microorganisms that inhabit the varied ecosystems of the Earth. This story highlights the collaborative effort, which will allow for comparisons among different ecosystems worldwide and will allow for advances in modeling efforts. Because microorganisms are so critical in ecosystem functioning, this microbiome effort is critical to our understanding of Earth's ecosystems.
This article by Lauren Gravitz in the May 17, 2012 issure of Nature highlights the roles of microorganisms in the human gut and suggests that these microorganism essentially serve as another organ in the human body. The article discusses the possible role of microorganisms in diabetes and insulin resistance and efforts to understand microbial roles in metabolism in the human body.
A recounting of Dr. Omry Koren's research at Cornell University that was published in Cell on the microbiome of stool samples from 91 pregnant Finish women. No difference was found in the first trimester but major differences that relate to metabolism were found in the third trimester.
By nurturing the invisible ecosystem in and on our bodies, doctors may be able to find other ways to fight infectious diseases, and with less harmful side effects. Tending the microbiome may also help in the treatment of disorders that may not seem to have anything to do with bacteria, including obesity and diabetes.
Another article by Carl Zimmer in the June 18, 2012 science ssection of the New York Times, it's a nice overview of the microbiome and even includes fungus whereas most articles only mention bacteria.
By Christine Gormanj in the May 15, 2012 issue of Scientific American, this article provides an overview of human microbiome studies. An interactive presentation, the viewer can click on one of five areas of the body that are highlighted and can get an overview of the microbiome in that area. Major microbial players in each body area also are provided with an overview of key information about each organisms, which often contains a link to further information.
Contributing Team of Educators:
Harold Chittum Ph.D., University of Pikeville
Dia-Eldin A. Elnaiem Ph.D., University of Maryland Eastern Shore
J. Michael Engle Ph.D., Mount Aloysius College
Danny L. Franke Ph.D., Alderson-Broaddus College
Diana E. Northup Ph.D., University of New Mexico
Lori West Ph.D., Lee University