Microbes are tiny organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, found everywhere: in the water, in the soil, in our food and even in our bodies. Trillions of symbiotic microbes live in and on each person, but 90%-95% of them live in the gut, especially in the colon.
While scientists have not yet been able to pinpoint what amounts to an ideal gut microbiota, they have demonstrated that microbes keep up healthy by reinforcing the gut barrier, improving gut motility and function, protecting us against pathogens and synthesizing metabolites, vitamins and hormones, just to mention their main benefits.
Scientists analyse microbiota activity by studying the microbiome, i.e., the genetic material within the microbiota. The genes in our microbiome outnumber the genes in our genome by 150 to 1, which gives an idea of the vast amount of information contained within the microbiome of any given human. This is also what makes the microbiome as unique to each person as their fingerprint. Collecting, storing and processing such vast volumes of data requires big data analytic tools.