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Approaches and developments in studying the human microbiome network

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image of Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

The human microbiome is dynamic and unique to each individual, and its role is being increasingly recognized in healthy physiology and in disease, including gastrointestinal and neuropsychiatric disorders. Therefore, characterizing the human microbiome and the factors that shape its bacterial population, how they are related to host-specific attributes, and understanding the ways in which it can be manipulated and the phenotypic consequences of such manipulations are of great importance. Characterization of the microbiome so far has been mostly based on compositional studies alone, where relative abundances of different species are compared in different conditions, such as health and disease. However, inter-relationships among the bacterial species, such as competition and cooperation over metabolic resources, may be an important factor that affects the structure and function of the microbiome. Here we review the network-based approaches in answering such questions and explore the first attempts that focus on the interactions facet, complementing compositional studies, towards understanding the microbiome structure and its complex relationship with the human host.

Affiliations: 1: Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; 2: Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, IMRIC, Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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