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Genomic approaches to studying the human microbiota


The human body is colonized by a vast array of microbes, which form communities of bacteria, viruses and microbial eukaryotes that are specific to each anatomical environment. Every community must be studied as a whole because many organisms have never been cultured independently, and this poses formidable challenges. The advent of next-generation DNA sequencing has allowed more sophisticated analysis and sampling of these complex systems by culture-independent methods. These methods are revealing differences in community structure between anatomical sites, between individuals, and between healthy and diseased states, and are transforming our view of human biology.

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Figure 1: Data and analysis workflow for microbiome analysis.


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The author gratefully acknowledges generous support from the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to George M. Weinstock.

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Weinstock, G. Genomic approaches to studying the human microbiota. Nature 489, 250–256 (2012).

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