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Highly Accessed Editorial

Microbial genomics: an increasingly revealing interface in human health and disease

Martin L Hibberd

Author Affiliations

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

Genome Medicine 2013, 5:31  doi:10.1186/gm435

Published: 18 April 2013

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

The diverse microbial communities associated with humans are now beginning to be comprehensively interrogated and characterized, thanks to new genomic, metagenomic and other high-throughput approaches. However, there is a huge amount of work to be done that will require a large-scale effort from the scientific community, particularly in the development and application of analysis tools and in achieving a biological understanding of the human-microbe interface. This endeavor has already begun with projects such as MetaHIT [1] and the Human Microbiome Project Consortium [2] taking advantage of the extensive advances made with the advent of highly parallel next-generation sequencing approaches. But I would call for one additional effort: in the midst of all the thousands of microbial genomes, the role of one additional genome - the human genome - should also be fully evaluated. It is becoming increasingly clear that human genetic variants, particularly in microbial sensing genes, might influence the structure of the human-associated microbial communities and lead to diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease [3]. Interestingly, the shaping of these microbial communities, influenced by the human genome, might occur during the early colonization following birth and might influence many of the subsequent microbiome interactions.