Human microbiome analysis is the study of microbial communities found in and on the human body. The goal of human microbiome studies is to understand the role of microbes in health and disease.
Traditionally, studying samples from human skin, stool, or blood relied on time- and labor-intensive microbiology techniques of growing and isolating individual organisms followed by phenotypic or genotypic analysis. Microbial community profiling within a single sample was not possible with these methods.
The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) enabled several high-profile collaborative projects including the Human Microbiome Project and MetaHIT, which have published a wide range of data on the human microbiome using NGS as a foundational tool.
The throughput and cost savings of NGS have fueled metagenomics studies capable of surveying the genomes of entire communities, including those of unculturable organisms.