DART targets community edition

Microbiome studies rely heavily on sequencing methods to identify changes or patterns in microbial communities that may indicate functional consequences, such as pathogenic processes in the host. Often times, the holy grail of these studies is to identify individual key bacteria, or key groups of related bacteria, that can be targeted to prevent or resolve disease or disease complications. However, reaching this conclusion and the ultimate therapeutic interventions requires complex experimentation, including the ability to isolate the organism (s) of interest from the host and to genetically modify genes suspected of conferring the phenotype of interest. From a practical standpoint, however, existing bacterial culture and engineering approaches are fraught with difficulties because (1) many bacteria have not yet been successfully cultured outside of their original environment; (2) most microorganisms with biomedical, environmental and industrial potential coexist and interact with other organisms in communities; (3) not all bacteria lend themselves to genetic engineering; and (4) strains conceived in isolation may not provide the genetically modified phenotype when reintroduced into the microbiome. Therefore, a widely applicable and scalable strategy for editing the bacterial genome of target organisms within their natural communities is needed.

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