Bacteria do not live in isolation, but tend to form parts of microbial communities (called “microbiomes”), displaying complex inter-dependencies between themselves and their environments. The composition of these communities is increasingly viewed as having a significant impact on human health disease.
To understand more about how bacteria function within their communities, whole microbiome gene expression profiling has emerged as a powerful tool to study their influence on their environment. However, few methods and tools to fully understand the data resulting from this profiling have been developed.
Dr. John Parkinson and team aim to bridge this gap by developing new software that enables the identification of genes and pathways that have critical roles within the microbiome. Such genes and pathways represent potential targets for new treatments that help maintain healthy microbiomes and reduce the risk of diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, irritable bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.