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Microbiome research

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Microbiome research


What to study?

  • Static Part: What is Microbiome research, significance of Human Microbiome.
  • Dynamic and Current: Indian project on Microbiome research, concerns, potential and challenges ahead.


Why in News?

From November 19 to 22, Pune hosted an international conference on microbiome research — a field of study that is still in its infancy in India.


What is “Human Microbiome”?

The human body carries diverse communities of microorganisms, which are mainly bacterial. These are referred to as “human microbiome”.


Their role:

These organisms play a key role in many aspects of host physiology, ranging from metabolism of otherwise complex indigestible carbohydrates and fats to producing essential vitamins, maintaining immune systems and acting as a first line of defense against pathogens.


Significance of research on the human microbiome:

Research on the human microbiome has thrown light on various aspects — how different parts of the human body are occupied by characteristic microbial communities, and how various factors contribute in shaping the composition of the microbiome, including the genetics, dietary habits, age, geographic location and ethnicity. These studies laid a strong foundation to decipher the microbiome’s implications on health and a wide range of diseases.


India’s project:

India has proposed a project that would study and map the human microbiome across the country. The Rs 150-crore project will get approval soon.

  • The project will include collection of saliva, stool and skin swabs of 20,000 Indians across various ethnic groups from different geographical regions. India provides for a wide range of research with more than 4,500 ethnic groups and presence of two global biodiversity hotspots (Himalayan range and Western Ghats).



Scientists at NCSS have conducted a meta-analysis on gut microbiota of healthy Indian individuals and compared it with that of individuals from other parts of the world. It shows that the Indian population harbours a distinct gut microbial community, which, scientists say, calls for an in-depth investigation of the Indian microbiome.

India has a large number of tribal populations largely unaffected by “modern” diet and lifestyle. The prevalence of lifestyle-related disorders such as obesity and diabetes has been known to be significantly lower compared to the non-tribal (urbanised) populations across the globe. Hence, scientists say, a study on the tribal population would help improve knowledge of evolution of the mutualism between gut microbiota and the host.

Sources: Indian Express.