Slovenian research sheds new light on microbiome

Ljubljana – A group of Slovenian researchers has created software that helps scientists analyse the content of microbiomes, the communities of microorganisms living in the human gut, in order to detect specific pathways that may indicate the presence of a disease. The discovery creates opportunities for the development of new personalised-medicine therapies.

The paper by Boštjan Murovec of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Leon Deutsch of the Biotechnical Faculty and Blaž Stres, who works at the Biotechnical Faculty, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Jožef Stefan Institute, has been published in the journal Metabolites (https://www.mdpi.com/2218-1989/11/6/336).

“The gut microbiome comprises a huge number of different bacteria, archaea, fungi and protozoa, as well as viruses and various mobile elements. All these microbes create a huge diversity of chemical substances that play a key role in the development, wellbeing and ageing of their hosts,” said Stres, the lead author.

The researchers developed software called General Unified Microbiome Profiling Pipeline to forecast metagenomic functional genes, enzymatic reactions and metabolic pathways using amplicon data (amplicons are pieces of DNA or RNA that are the source and/or product of amplification or replication events).

Using the software, it is possible to conduct reproducible analyses and standardised analysis of ribosomal RNA datasets, from which researchers can recognise biochemical pathways characteristic of individual diseases, according to Stres.

The researchers have already produced data indicating that the microbiome affects the health of the host and the progress of chronic disease. It also plays a role in multiple metabolic disorders, including obesity and autoimmune diseases.

Since the discovery creates opportunities for the development of new personalised-medicine therapies, the journal featured it on its front page, the Biotechnical Faculty said.