From our perspective, microbes can be goodies or baddies. Either way, they are almost everywhere.
Microbiome sequencing, which identifies microbes in a given environment, can be used for many purposes, such as clinical diagnostics, monitoring the microbial quality in industrial processes, or research and development.
Human & animal
The microbiome is essential for health and trains our immune system to act appropriately.
The human body is colonized by microbes that live on our mucosal surfaces, such as in the gut, airways, vagina, and our largest organ, the skin. There are at least as many microbial cells in our body as we have our somatic cells. Beyond this, each microbe we carry has a genome of different genes. The community of various microbial species, their genomes, and functions in our body is called the human microbiome.
The microbiome is essential for health and trains our immune system to act correctly. This host-microbiome interplay may sometimes shift to imbalance, so-called dysbiosis, giving rise to illness. Therefore the need for investigating the human microbiome often arises from medical care or well-being, e.g. developing solutions against diseases or improving health.
Beyond veterinary or medical research, products targeting the microbiome are a growing industry for production animals and pets. For instance, the well-being of production animals or pets can be affected by the balance of their gut microbiota.
The environmental microbiome plays an important role in our everyday life and well-being and sustains natural habitats.
The environmental microbiome refers to the microbes and their genomes in the environment, such as in water bodies, forests, soil, air, and plants, but also in our living environment, including indoors. The environmental microbiome plays an important role in our everyday life and well-being and sustains natural habitats. This is why microbiomes of different environments are heavily investigated and applied.
Among many examples, let’s consider food supply, which heavily depends on the productivity of plant crops, which in turn depends on the microbiome of the soil. Another example could be the purification of wastewater, e.g., coming from households. The effective composition of microbial species removing nitrogen from wastewater is an essential tool against the eutrophication of natural waters and lets us enjoy lakes and seas.
Monitoring microbiomes in industrial settings is an effective tool for quality and development.
Microbial content in raw materials and end products or production lines can be of interest, e.g., from product development or quality control point of view.
Microbiological quality control is essential in any industry in which the shelf life or quality of products depends on hygienic conditions in manufacturing or the microbial content of the end product. Examples of such industries are food production, the beverage or brewing industry, and cosmetics. To be successful, a manufacturing process itself can have demands for microbiological quality.
Specific microbes in the end product can also be the target. The typical examples are probiotic bacteria or yeasts in food and animal feed or pharmaceutical products. During the development of such a product, it is helpful to test whether probiotics can survive through the digestive system to be a part of the gut microbiota that promotes health.