27 May 2016

The Internet of "Microbiomes"

On May 13th , the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with Federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, announced the National Microbiome Initiative (NMI).
Microbiomes, which are communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere with a fundamental role in maintaining the healthy function of diverse ecosystems: Microbiomes influence radically human health, climate change, and food security.
The NMI brings together scientists from more than 100 universities, companies, research institutions, and federal agencies in the US. The main goal of NMI is understanding of microbiomes for the development of useful applications in areas such as health care, food production, and environmental restoration: what are the fundamental principles that govern microbiomes ecosystems, which tools developing to monitor and control  microbiomes dynamics, etc...

ThepotentialimpactofaunifiedMicrobiomeinitiativetounderstandandresponsiblyharnesstheactivitiesofmicrobial communities. (Credit: Diana Swantek, Berkeley Lab)
The potential impacts of Microbiome (Credit: Diana Swantek, Berkeley Lab)

Just imagine that there are trillions of microbes in the human microbiome: the entire human microbiome is a world of living entities accounting for about for 1-3% total body mass, with weight-estimates ranging as high as 1,400 grams. Human microbiomes influence radically human body and mind states. So, mapping human microbiome is a grand challenge: consider that DNA of the microbes that inhabit a person's human body can uniquely identify the person.
Having said that, and considering that today DNA storage and computing prototypes are getting more and more momentum (for feasibility at affordable costs)...

...it’s likely that a new big Industry "handling" this universe of microbiomes, for plenty of applications, may emerge !