The healthy adult body hosts ten times as many microbes as human cells. The metagenome carried collectively by these microbial communities dwarfs the human genome in size. For the first time, a consortium of researchers has mapped the full community of microbes that inhabit various parts of the healthy body.
The new PLoS Human Microbiome Project Collection encompasses genome sequencing research that shows reference data for microbes living with healthy adults. The manuscripts within the Collection provide a comprehensive baseline of the microbial diversity at 18 different human body sites. This includes reference genomes of thousands of host-associated microbial isolates, 3.5 terabases of metagenomic sequences, assemblies, and metabolic reconstructions, and a catalogue of over 5 million microbial genes.
A number of studies also look at the relationships between the microbiome and the host, and how these interactions relate to health. They describe the shifts in the composition of various microbial communities as they relate to a number of specific conditions: the gut microbiome and Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and esophageal adenocarcinoma; the skin microbiome and psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis and immunodeficiency; urogenital microbiome and reproductive and sexual history and circumcision and a number of childhood disorders, including pediatric abdominal pain and intestinal inflammation, and neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis.