The Dynamic Microbiome

Our genomes are essentially static; our Microbiomes are inherently dynamic. The microbial communities we harbor in our bodies change throughout our lives due to many factors, including maturation during childhood, alterations in our diets, travel, illnesses, and medical treatments. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that our Microbiomes change us, by promoting health through their beneficial actions or by increasing our susceptibility to diseases through a process termed dysbiosis. Microbiomes change us, by promoting health through their beneficial actions or by increasing our susceptibility to diseases through a process termed dysbiosis recent technological advances are enabling unprecedentedly detailed studies of the dynamics of the micro biota in animal models and human populations. Dramatic changes can occur with diseases, such as infections or inflammatory bowel disease. Medical interventions, such as antibiotic treatments can also profoundly affect the micro biota. Longitudinal Microbiome studies are beginning to yield exciting insights into the dynamic behaviors of the micro biota, including microbial succession events during infant gut maturation, normal temporal variability in healthy adults, responses over time to perturbations such as antibiotics and dietary changes, and dysbiotic alterations that presage symptomatic disease. Computational tools for analyzing Microbiome time‐series data are another area where we're likely to see tremendous growth. We are already beginning to see more sophisticated techniques being applied to analyzing Microbiome time‐series data, such as non‐parametric Bayesian models and dynamical systems theory, inter‐individual Microbiome variability in humans, which can obscure any common signal present. Computational techniques that could model inter‐individual variability while automatically capturing commonalities at appropriate levels in ecosystems would be very powerful. The dynamic microbial battles and alliances that are being played out in our bodies provide a fascinating counter‐point to our rather staid, stable genomes.

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