Fifty important research questions in microbial ecology

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  • Rachael E. Antwis
    University of Salford
  • Sarah M. Griffiths
    Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Xavier A. Harrison
    Zoological Society of London
  • Paz Aranega-Bou
    University of Salford
  • Andres Arce
    Imperial College London
  • Aimee S. Bettridge
    Cardiff University
  • Francesca Brailsford
  • Alexandre de Menezes
    University of Salford
  • Andrew Devaynes
    Edge Hill University, Lancashire
  • Kristian M. Forbes
    University of Helsinki
  • Ellen L. Fry
    University of Manchester
  • Ian Goodhead
    University of Salford
  • Erin Haskell
    University of York
  • Chloe Heys
    University of Liverpool
  • Chloe James
    University of Salford
  • Sarah R. Johnston
    Cardiff University
  • Gillian R. Lewis
    Edge Hill University, Lancashire
  • Zenobia Lewis
    University of Liverpool
  • Michael C. Macey
    University of East Anglia
  • Alan McCarthy
    University of Liverpool
  • James McDonald
  • Nasmille L. Mejia-Florez
    University of East Anglia
  • David O'Brien
    Scottish National Heritage, Inverness.
  • Chloe Orland
    University of Cambridge
  • Marco Pautasso
    European Food Safety Authority, Parma.
  • William D.K. Reid
    Newcastle University
  • Heather A. Robinson
    University of Manchester
  • Kenneth Wilson
    Lancaster University
  • William J. Sutherland
    University of Cambridge
Microbial ecology provides insights into the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of microbial communities underpinning every ecosystem on Earth. Microbial communities can now be investigated in unprecedented detail, although there is still a wealth of open questions to be tackled. Here we identify 50 research questions of fundamental importance to the science or application of microbial ecology, with the intention of summarising the field and bringing focus to new research avenues. Questions are categorised into seven themes: host–microbiome interactions; health and infectious diseases; human health and food security; microbial ecology in a changing world; environmental processes; functional diversity; and evolutionary processes. Many questions recognise that microbes provide an extraordinary array of functional diversity that can be harnessed to solve real-world problems. Our limited knowledge of spatial and temporal variation in microbial diversity and function is also reflected, as is the need to integrate micro- and macro-ecological concepts, and knowledge derived from studies with humans and other diverse organisms. Although not exhaustive, the questions presented are intended to stimulate discussion and provide focus for researchers, funders and policy makers, informing the future research agenda in microbial ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfix044
JournalFems Microbiology Ecology
Issue number5
Early online date3 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

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