Microbes are tiny organisms found in almost all ecological niches, including the human body. They play an important part in all life on earth, by being involved in the complex processes that transform, stabilize and break down raw chemicals in the environment into useful elements for all living organisms. Microbes live, function and grow in communities, often forming symbiotic relationships with their hosts. These communities are called “microbiomes” and their function is often related to the community composition, which has a profound effect on our health, behavior, and even our responses to different drugs. The study of microbes and microbial communities is known as metagenomics.
The 18th-century invention of the microscope led to the discovery of microbes. But of late, we are learning to appreciate, even more, the complex roles they play. The discovery of the Polymerase Chain Reaction and the work on the 16S ribosomal RNA genes in the 1980s created a tectonic shift from culture-based sequencing to genomic sequencing. The emergence of High Throughput Technologies (i.e. Next Generation Sequencing) enables us to study the microbial communities in their natural environments. Today, these technologies are being perfected by complex bioinformatics analysis tools that denoise the data and leverage databases that allow us to make this data useful.
Applying NGS to study the sequences of microbial genomes and analyzing this data to study the microbiota has already led to many breakthroughs in medicine, biotechnology, and agriculture. These studies show that various microbial communities in the human body play a vital role in human health. Since food plays a major role in our lives, researchers are studying the role of the gut microbiome in human physiology and many diseases. Today many researchers agree that the role of bacteria in our immune system, chronic diseases and even behavior has been underestimated.
The Human Genome Project (HGP) in 2003 completely transformed the way biomedical data is to be studied, interpreted and analyzed. It gave rise to -omics technologies and computational approaches that started an explosion in our ability to study sequences of DNA and RNA and understand the complex relationships between microorganisms and their host environment (living and non-living).
More recently, the American Gut Project is one of those groundbreaking citizen science projects dedicated to metagenomics sequencing. It compared human microbiome specimens from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia to the different contributing environmental factors. The results showed a beta-diversity in human stool samples in comparison to the environmental samples and also confirmed the existence of an association between microbiome and psychiatric ailments. It also shed light on how the microbiome composition changed in the event of surgery or extreme plant diets.
Many other projects have been started to study the microbiome. You can read more about them here:
But the study of microbes is not limited to 16s/18s amplicon metagenomic sequencing. The study of bacteria and viruses, which are also microbes can be done using NGS of the full genomes of these microorganisms.
Tuberculosis is a major global health concern. The study of tuberculosis using Next Generation Sequencing has contributed to our understanding of the disease as well as an appreciation of microbial resistance to antibiotics. Today, microbial drug resistance has become a huge concern as the overuse of antibiotics gave rise to drug-resistant pathogens. Many other diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses are continuously studied by teams of researchers from around the world. Many of these teams share their data in public repositories like the NCBI where thousands of datasets can be found.
Omicslogic Metagenomics Online Courses and Training Program
Keeping these facts in mind, we are launching the OmicsLogic Metagenomics program starting this November. During this 2 month program, we will explore different types of analysis that can be used to study and analyze the microbial world. From understanding the sequencing of data to bioinformatics approaches of analysis, we will learn to compare microbial composition in different conditions, learn about the sequencing of viral samples and discuss how microbes evade the immune response of the host as well as evade treatment. As a result, each one will have the opportunity to apply the learned skills to a project sourced from high impact publications in this field and receive a certificate of completion from Pine Biotech and The Tauber Bioinformatics Research Center.
The program will commence on 1st November with an introductory session on 29th October. The cost for the program is $135 USD. However, you can take 25% off using the code “EARLYBIRD” at the checkout page before 31st October.
To apply for the program, click here.