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Data acquisition and coordination key to human microbiome project
Date:6/9/2010

At birth, your body was 100-percent human in terms of cells. At death, about 10-percent of the cells in your body will be human and the remaining 90-percent will be microorganisms. That makes you a "supraorganism," and it is the interactions between your human and microbial cells that go a long way towards determining your health and physical well-being, especially your resistance to infectious diseases.

To learn more about the community of symbiotic microbes that outnumber our own somatic and germ cells by a 10:1 ratio, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2008 launched the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) - a microbiome is the full complement of microorganisms populating a supraorganism. The goal of the HMP is to sequence the genomes of 1,000 or more of these microbial species and assemble the information in a "project catalog" as a reference for future investigations. The project catalog is housed at the HMP Data Acquisition and Coordination Center (DACC), which was created and is maintained by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

"The HMP project catalog is a unique worldwide resource," says molecular biologist Nikos Kyrpides of Berkeley Lab's Genomics Division, who heads the Genome Biology and Metagenomics Programs for the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and is the co-principal investigator of the DACC. "It has a central role in the HMP, not only in maintaining the list and status of over 1,400 individual human microbiome projects, but also as a data managements system for the metadata associated with these projects, such as information on the microbial isolation sites and the sites in the human body where these microbes can be found, and information on the phenotypic properties of these microbes."

At JGI, Kyrpides oversees projects such as GenePRIMP, a highly rated quality control program for genome sequencing, and GOLD, the Genomes On-Line Database
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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