Thursday morning panel

Negative results are important source of information for at least one of this morning’s research projects. How do we get more negative results published, or at least available?

Given that microbe function may differ at the strain level, what level of sampling would be necessary to capture this level of variation? It’s currently unrealistic to characterize an entire microbiome to the level of strain, so it’s necessary to identify target organisms and isolate strains of interest.

Given the importance of host-microbe interactions, what are the risks of studying human microbes in model organisms like zebrafish or Drosophila? Drawbacks, but also advantages of being able to test responses over many generations or large sample sizes.

How to bring more virus, fungi, and archaea research into our understanding of the microbiome? Many panelists trained as bacteriologists, so they are kind of pushed in that direction. But asking the right research questions could drive us to investigate inter-kingdom interactions in the microbiome.

Is the skin microbiome affected by geographic location, weather, or time of year? Skin microbiomes are so individual that we are currently underpowered to answer those questions. We still don’t know what the main drivers are of skin microbial community composition. There currently isn’t really data to answer that question.

How to deal with the research-limiting step of metagenomics? The sequencing is getting easier and cheaper, but the analysis is still really hard because the data sets are so large. Creates an opportunity for team science.

If you had a magic wand you could use to make one thing easier in your research, what would it be? Better understand metabolites; Rey: engineer desired mutations; Guillemin: have truly closed systems in which to work; Segre: know the history of strains; Slinger: need compounds that are good at turning off quorum sensing.