Karen E. Nelson
J. Craig Venter Institute, United States of America
Advances in sequencing technologies and analytic approaches have enabled an in-depth characterization of the microbial communities that are associated with animals and humans, and have increased the possibilities for improving our understanding of human and animal health and disease. In humans, we now recognize that these microorganisms are essential for healthy growth and development. Disruptions of our normal microbial populations have been implicated in several diseases including colon cancer, autism, acne, and various gastrointestinal disorders to name a few. The opportunities presented through studying the microbiome are enormous and range from the development of new probiotics, novel diagnostics for infectious diseases, and treatments that include using the microbiome as a therapeutic. Similar studies are now being performed on a variety of animal species, including companion animals, those used for research, agricultural and food purposes. Animal microbiome studies are allowing us to broaden our understanding of their microbiomes and related applications, including animal feed conversion efficiency, microbes at the animal-human interface, and implications for infectious disease control and prevention strategies. In addition, various animal models allow for the design of controlled microbiome experiments to apply to human-microbiome interactions in health and disease.
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