Scientists appeal for ambitious microbiome study

2015-10-29 16:37


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Miami - A group of 48 scientists from 50 US institutions on Wednesday called for more ambitious research into the tiny microorganisms that play a huge role in health, energy and farming.

Known as the Unified Microbiome Initiative Consortium (UMIC), the effort aims to vastly improve research on microbiomes, whether they be in the soil, the water or the human gut.

The project would uncover the role of individual microbes - which include fungi, bacteria, viruses, algae and more - and how they communicate with each other, their hosts, and their environment.

The US-based programme would have a 10-year timeframe, and could be complemented by a European effort, scientists wrote in the journals Science and Nature.

"Over the past 20 years, new technologies have reshaped our understanding of the essential roles microbes play on our planet," said a statement by Miyoung Chun, executive vice president of science programs at The Kavli Foundation.

Useful chemicals

"A Unified Microbiome Initiative would develop the transformative tools and research teams we need to harness the power of these communities to improve human health, agricultural productivity, bioenergy production, and environmental stability."

There are believed to be 100 trillion microbes in the human gut, and they are critical to health and development, but scientists are only just beginning to understand why.

Those calling for the new effort hail from the Department of Energy, national laboratories, universities and research institutions.

The group came together during a series of "co-ordinated but separately convened meetings held by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and The Kavli Foundation," said a statement from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

"Technology has gotten us to the point where we realize that microbes are like dark matter in the universe," said Eoin Brodie, deputy director of the Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"We know microbes are everywhere, and are far more complex than we previously thought, but we really need to understand how they communicate and relate to the environment."

According to Jeff Miller, co-author of the Science paper and director of the California NanoSystems Institute, the initiative "might hold the key to advances as diverse as fighting antibiotic resistance and autoimmune diseases, reclaiming ravaged farmland, reducing fertilizer and pesticide use, and converting sunlight into useful chemicals."

Read more on:    science  |  farming  |  energy  |  health

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham

Here are just ten of our favourite plus-sized models:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.