The study of microbes helps us to understand our world and our place within it. In celebration of World Microbiome Day on 27 June, the Microbiology Society and the British Society for Immunology have collaborated to curate a freely-available collection of microbiome research and review articles published in our journals. This unique collaboration breaks traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing together those within the microbiology and immunology communities who have shared interests in how the microbiota function.
Supporting microbiome research
Both the Microbiology Society and British Society for Immunology have a strong track record in supporting, promoting and disseminating microbiome research.
The Microbiology Society published Unlocking the Microbiome in 2017, as part of a wider Policy Project exploring the opportunities and challenges of microbiome research for health, agriculture and food, environment, and biotechnology. The report makes recommendations for the research community, funders and decision-makers to progress microbiome research and translation. The May 2017 issue of the Society’s magazine Microbiology Today was dedicated to the microbiome – a collection of articles which begins to show just how significant the interactions between different microbiomes can be, and how understanding the interactions is critical to understanding the impact they might have. The Society is also developing a series of new microbiome policy briefings in human health, agriculture and food, environment, and industry.
The British Society for Immunology has recently run several events focused on the microbiome, including a plenary session at their 2017 Congress, and an event for the public at the Francis Crick Institute. In addition to an article on the microbiome in their 60th anniversary publication, they have also published a video from Danny Altmann, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Immunology explaining why microbiome research is important.
We invite other societies working in this exciting area of microbiome research to join us in future collaborations. Microbiomes do not live and function in isolation, and nor should we. The full collection of articles on microbiome published by the Microbiology Society journals are freely available, and the British Society for Immunology collection is similarly free. The articles published by the Microbiology Society reflect the breadth of knowledge in this area, covering topics such as genomic diversity in Vibrio cholerae, human genome–microbiome interaction, the impact of stress in the gut of a gorilla, oral microbiome in an HIV individual, and viral–bacterial interactions in the respiratory tract. From the immunology side, the collection covers novel therapeutic approaches to inflammatory bowel disease through modulation of diet and the gut microbiome, adaptive immune education by gut microbiota antigens, immune regulation by microbiome metabolites, differential responses of human dendritic cells to metabolites from the oral/airway microbiome, and the intestinal microbiome in type 1 diabetes.
Several exciting projects such as the Human Microbiome Project, the TARA Oceans Project, the TerraGenome soil project, and the Earth Microbiome Project are providing data to form the bigger picture. As articulated in Unlocking the Microbiome, it is essential that we engage with policy makers, educators, and the public to inform and engage with them about this growing area of research.