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.