The Mid-Atlantic Microbiome Meet-up (M3) organization brings together academic, government, and industry groups to share ideas and develop best practices for microbiome research. In January of 2018, M3 held its fourth meeting, which focused on recent advances in biodefense, specifically those relating to infectious disease, and the use of metagenomic methods for pathogen detection. Presentations highlighted the utility of next-generation sequencing technologies for identifying and tracking microbial community members across space and time. However, they also stressed the current limitations of genomic approaches for biodefense, including insufficient sensitivity to detect low-abundance pathogens and the inability to quantify viable organisms. Participants discussed ways in which the community can improve software usability and shared new computational tools for metagenomic processing, assembly, annotation, and visualization. Looking to the future, they identified the need for better bioinformatics toolkits for longitudinal analyses, improved sample processing approaches for characterizing viruses and fungi, and more consistent maintenance of database resources. Finally, they addressed the necessity of improving data standards to incentivize data sharing. Here, we summarize the presentations and discussions from the meeting, identifying the areas where microbiome analyses have improved our ability to detect and manage biological threats and infectious disease, as well as gaps of knowledge in the field that require future funding and focus.
- Longitudinal analysis
- Pathogen detection