Our world contains a staggering amount of microbial diversity – microbes inhabit Earth’s soils and seas, as well as our own bodies – and the goal of microbiome research is to understand the interactions of microbes living in all of these environments.

Recognizing the potential of microbiome research to improve human health and generate novel technologies, a consortium of microbiome researchers from across the country announced the formation of the Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI). The group, which includes George Weinstock, Professor and Director for Microbial Genomics at The Jackson Laboratory, made their announcement in the October 30 issue of Science. To advance microbiome research, the UMI calls for the development of new technologies and tools, including improved DNA sequencing, computational, and imaging methods. The UMI also advocates for additional and sustained collaboration among scientists in the field.