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Microbiomes white paper

White paper

Date: 2nd August 2018

The study of microbiomes — the genetic material of all microorganisms in a given sample — has recently attracted considerable attention, mainly due to the realisation that the microbial composition of our bodies and environment can have a profound effect on our health. The composition of the human microbiome, for example, has been connected to obesity, immunity and psychiatric conditions . Of note, there has also been a surge in research efforts focusing on analysing the microbiome of extreme environments, water, soil, buildings, etc.

Classical microbiome research relies on culturing, which is associated with long sample-to-result time and biases related to the different susceptibility of microorganisms to laboratory handling. The advent of modern sequencing technologies has brought significant advantages to the field. Speed and accuracy of microbial analysis (i.e. species identification and abundance) have increased substantially, with culturing no longer being necessary. Nonetheless, some challenges remain with traditional sequencing approaches. This review will explore the challenges of microbiome research, providing real-world examples of how they are being overcome through the use of nanopore sequencing technology.

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