Unlocking the world of microbiomes: exploring microbial communities

© iStock/Martina Birnbaum

What is a microbiome?

A microbiome is a community of micro-organisms living together in a natural habitat. From the human gut and ocean microbiomes to soil health; research into the microbiome has evolved over time allowing us to study microbial communities, genes and proteins in more depth. Watch our short video to learn more.

Developing a more holistic understanding of microbial life could help us treat disease, protect the environment and harness the power of earth's ecosystems. It continues to improve the development of surveillance programmes that hold the promise of protection, restoration and remediation of ecosystems impacted by anthropogenic pollution and climate change.


Why does the microbiome matter?

The expansion of microbiome research has led us to harness the natural power of microbes and provide solutions for arising global challenges surrounding food security and resource limitation. A better understanding of the human microbiome has led to us identifying early risk factors of disease and investing our efforts to ensure that environmental cycles continue to support an ecosystem conducive to life is becoming fundamental to global ecosystem functions, services and life.

We will explore three key areas which are helping us to develop a better understanding of the world of microbiomes below. Click on each content hub to find out more about how the microbiology community is working to explore microbial communities and access our further reading materials and additional resources.  

  • The microbiome and human health

    Microbiomes play a vital role in the health of living systems. Discover more about how microbiome research is opening up a vast range of opportunities in human health including identifying early risk factors of diseases and other conditions affecting human health.

  • Agriculture and food microbiomes

    Micro-organisms play a fundamental role in agriculture and food production. Discover more about how microbiota in these systems perform an array of pivotal functions essential to system health, sustainability and productivity.

  • Environmental and industrial microbiomes

    From the impact of microbial communities in our oceans to soil microbes, our ability to investigate microbial communities in a wide range of environments across the globe has been transformed. Discover more about these fascinating communities here.

Image credits:
Martina Birnbaum/iStock
Chloe James
María Luisa Maldonado
Andre Antunes