The MicroBiome Analysis Center
College of Science, George Mason University
The MicroBiome Analysis Center (MBAC) resides within the College of Science at George Mason University and supports collaborative research in the fields of Molecular Ecology, Microbial Ecology, Molecular Evolution, and Biomedical Sciences.
One focus of MBAC research is the study of dysbiosis of the microbial communities (microbiomes) that reside in the human gut, mouth, urogenital, and respiratory tracts, to model the homeostatic interactions between microbiome function and human-derived gene expression. We define these functions and interactions as the “metabiome” and this represents an example where biological data and computational tools are brought together in the multidisciplinary field called Systems Biology. It has now become apparent that the human microbiome is implicated in social behavior, reproduction, growth, cognition, as well as many diseases. The human microbiome is an integral component of the human ecosystem and is a major driver of the system. In fact, one could even say that the human host is there merely to propagate the “selfish microbiome.”
We also are participating in numerous studies on population genetics, molecular systematics, and conservation genetics using NextGen sequencing technology. Emerging themes are the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) in the broad interrogation of vertebrate diversity in specific ecological niches and the use of Laser capture microdissection and in situ hybridization allow us to visualize where microbes reside in cells and tissues and evaluate their health effects.