Environmental and industrial microbiomes

© Andre Antunes

Human activities and environmental changes are impacting on the diversity and function of microbiomes, with serious implications. By better understanding the impacts of environmental factors on microbiomes and their resilience to change, scientists may make significant contributions to restoring or managing important microbiome functions. 

What are environmental and industrial microbiomes?

Environmental and industrial microbiomes are fundamental to global ecosystem functions, services and life. All of the major global geochemical cycles, for example the nitrogen cycle, would fail if specific microbiomes, which are responsible for keystone steps within the cycle, were perturbed in such a manner that they fail to fulfil their evolved roles. Using a microbiome-led approach will help us understand where we need to invest our efforts to ensure that these environmental cycles continue to support an ecosystem conducive to life.

Why do environmental and industrial microbiomes matter?

Microbiomes are fundamental to key geochemical processes – such as the nitrogen cycle, on which life on earth depends – so understanding the microbiome will be crucial to understanding and meeting the challenges of environmental change. 

Managing environmental conditions to promote useful functions of microbiomes; using synthetic biology to design microbiomes with particular functions; advancing diagnostic and predictive capabilities in health and other sectors; and mining microbiomes as sources of new products can help to promote a sustainable future and address key global challenges. 

Read more about why environmental and industrial microbiomes matter to our members and the wider microbiology community, access our resources and find out a bit more about the next area of microbiology that we will be showcasing: Understanding bacteria and the challenges in microbiology. 

  • Microbiologists working in this area

    To celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2020, we invited microbiologists to nominate the discovery or event that best showcases why microbiology matters and helps us demonstrate the impact of microbiologists past, present and future. Learn more about the microbiologists working in the area of environmental and industrial microbiomes.

  • Resources and further reading

    Discover more about how the gut microbiome could influence livestock growth, how antimicrobial resistance can spread rapidly through wild bird populations and access various issue of Microbiology Today which highlight the importance of agriculture and food.

  • Understanding bacteria and the challenges in microbiology

    There are approximately 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells in the human body. They are found in every habitat on Earth, therefore in an era where antimicrobial resistance has become a global issue, developing novel antimicrobial strategies, discovering the world of biofilms and understanding bacteria in industry is important to the world of microbiology.

Image credits:
Andre Antunes
Judith Armitage