Teaching the Microbiome

National Human Genome Research Institute

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

Teacher's resources for teaching about microbes and the microbiome

logoA teacher's tools website with resources for use in biology classes learning about microbes. Includes: Your Microbial Friends and the Symbiosis Scramble.


Microbiome learning tools for students

logo Student or family-oriented learning website for resources about the human microbiome: The Microbiome Simulator, Your Changing Microbiome, and How we Study The Microbiome.


Earth Microbiome Project

logo 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.


Major Human Microbiome Research Consortia

logo 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.


Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract

logo This site contains a nice downloadable pdf of their work. There are also links to other parts of the work including: Objectives, microbial profiling, data analysis, and more.


Overview of the Canadian Microbiome Initiative

logo Not only does this site contain information about the Canadian microbiome project, but it also contains a link to research highlights written for the public.


Ethics-related websites for microbiome research and microbiome studies

Stanford Bioethics Newsletter

logoThere 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.


Modeling the Earth Microbiome

logo 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.


Microbiome: The critters within

logoThis 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.


Are those the gut microbes of an unhealthy person, or a pregnant one?

logo 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.


Microbiome: How bugs may be crucial to your health

logo A nice article by Karen Weintraub covering the background for the reserch, who is doing the research, and a few examples of how these organisms are important. One example covers a fecal transplant.


The Wired Atlas of the Human Ecosystem

logo An article by Carl Zimmer in the October 2011 issue of Wired with nice graphics and blocks of text that are short and easy to read. It is a step above the normal newspaper article.


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Tending the Body's Microbial Garden

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.


Explore the Human Microbiome

logo 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

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Last Updated: November 17, 2014