context of the Human Microbiome Project.
After the Human Genome Project, interest grew in sequencing the “other genome" of microbes carried in and on the human body. Microbial ecologists, realizing that >99%
of environmental microbes could not be easily cultured, developed approaches to study microorganisms, primarily by sequencing the 16S ribosomal RNA gene (16S) as a phylogenetic and taxonomic marker to identify members of microbial communities. This has precipitated a sea change in the study of microbes and human health, inspiring the new term “metagenomics" both to describe a technological approach—sequencing and analysis of the genes from whole communities rather than from individual genomes—and to emphasize that microbes function within communities rather than as individual species. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) has provided important information from healthy people, to serve in comparisons looking for bacterial communities and gene patterns associated with health and disease. The human microbiome, the large-scale data management required to analysis the HMP data, and the implications of the HMP with respect to our daily lives will be discussed in this presentation.
Owen R. White, PhD, is the Director of the Bioinformatics department at the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) and a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
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