In DepthMicrobiology

DNA pushes back the microbiome frontier

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Science  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 23
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6461.23

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Summary

Over the past 15 years, researchers have come to appreciate how profoundly the diverse zoo of microbes in the human gut, skin, and mouth affects our health. But their identities and exactly how they exert their effects have remained mysterious. Now, two research groups have made this microbial dark matter more visible, by starting with its best-known aspect: its DNA. One team harnessed DNA sequence information to isolate specific microbes they wanted to grow in lab dishes. The other used it to discover chemicals that microbes make to communicate with each other and influence their human host. By opening the way to a more detailed understanding of the trillions of microbes we contain, the techniques could lead to new treatments.

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