The bacteria in microbiomes are closely tied to their host’s health. They regulate our immune system and metabolism, they offer protection against pathogenic microbes, and produce essential vitamins.
A next generation of therapeutics that can modulate our microbiomes is emerging. Understanding how to shift microbiomes from dysbiosis (unhealthy state) to a healthy state is key to developing such therapies.
The role of bioinformatics: Discovery of microbes or molecules that can modulate microbiomes depends on software that enables the study of how taxonomic and functional profiles of microbiomes change in response to external factors.
Quality control of microbes that modulate microbiomes is another important task and requires a different type of genomics-based analytics: typing at strain- and gene level via whole genome analysis level becomes important.
Microbiomes not only affect humans but are also agriculturally relevant. For instance, bacteria of the plant microbiome reside in soil, on leaves or inside the plant. New microbial seed supplements represent a sustainable and ecologically sound alternative to chemicals. Delivering select microbes to seeds, improves health and development throughout the plant life cycle, and optimizes yields.
Another important aspect is food safety. Food safety regulations aim at protecting consumers from foodborne illness, which involves tight surveillance from “farm to fork”.
Food safety means to protect consumers from foodborne illness and involves tight surveillance from “farm to fork”.
The role of bioinformatics: Developing seed supplements requires analytics that can link microbiome profiles to plant health and environmental factors.
Modern genomics and bioinformatics can help to quickly control food-borne contamination, which is key to ensuring food safety. After the detection and identification of pathogenic microbes, typing via whole genome analysis is the fastest, most accurate path to tracking a pathogen contamination back to the source. In addition, whole genome analysis can reveal the presence of genes involved in antimicrobial resistance.
Infectious diseases impact public health on a global scale and come with a heavy personal burden for patients and a high economical burden. Detecting and controlling pathogen outbreaks early is key to protecting public health.
The role of bioinformatics: Modern bioinformatics can analyze and compare pathogen isolates at the level of whole genomes. Comparing genomic information of isolates in context of epidemiological metadata allows investigators to track a pathogen outbreak back to its source.
Whole genome analysis also serves the purpose of characterizing pathogens, for instance revealing genes contributing to antimicrobial resistance. Such information can be crucial for optimal outbreak control. Metagenomics enables early detection of pathogens in metagenomic samples.
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