Biologists have long suggested that microbes in the human body can cause or contribute to some human diseases, such as diabetes. The new research method published in the ISME Journal, as A biomolecular isolation framework for eco-systems biology, might soon be able to prove this hypothesis.
“In order for us to understand the impact that microbes might have on human health, we need to be able to measure the biomolecular information contained within the DNA, RNA (ribonucleic acid), proteins, and small molecules of microbes in a truly systematic way. This was not possible until now,” explains Dr. Paul Wilmes, who runs the Eco-Systems Biology lab at the LCSB.
Using the method described by Wilmes, researchers can, for the first time, measure and integrate all the important biomolecular information from a single sample, providing scientists with high-resolution molecular snapshots of microbial communities in, for example, the human stomach and intestine.
The research method developed by Wilmes can also be applied to microbial communities found in other environments. In this particular study, authors used, for example, microbes that grow in wastewater treatment plants and that accumulate large amounts of high-energy fats. By using Wilmes’ new research method, scientist can do in-depth studies on these communities. “Once these microbial communities are better understood, we might be able to exploit these communities for the comprehensive reclamation of energy-rich fats from wastewater,” says Dr. Paul Wilmes.