The tools of chemical biology, genomics and data mining can yield insights into the metabolites of the microbiome.
Studies of the microorganisms that live on and inside animals’ bodies have long relied on DNA sequencing, which can reveal which species abound and how these microbial communities respond to their environment. Now, the analytical methods of chemical biology, combined with genomics and computing techniques, are giving researchers insights into what these microbes are actually doing, biochemically speaking. Using mass spectroscopy and a growing suite of databases and bioinformatics tools to analyse the data, some labs are focusing on substances produced as the microbes metabolize food. These ‘metabolites’ serve not only as markers for charting health and disease, but also as engines of physiological change.
Read more at Nature