News & AnalysisMicrobiology

Microbial Survey of Human Body Reveals Extensive Variation

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Science  15 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6087, pp. 1369-1371
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6087.1369

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Our bodies are home to trillions of microbes, an invisible ecosystem whose microbial members were virtually unknown until now. This week, a consortium involving 200 investigators from a variety of disciplines describes more than a dozen microscopic communities as part of the most thorough look ever at the microbial world on and within us. By the time it is completed next year, this Human Microbiome Project will have cataloged the microorganisms—and to a lesser extent, their genes—that live on 18 human body sites, sequencing 3000 relevant bacteria, and determining differences between the microbiomes of healthy and unhealthy people.