Zou, Y. et al. Nat. Biotechnol. 37, 179–185 (2019).

Forster, S. C. et al. Nat. Biotechnol. 37, 186–192 (2019).

The human gut microbiota harbors dynamic and complex populations of microorganisms that influence human health and disease. Advanced metagenomics sequencing in combination with computational tools enables analyses of genomic content and taxonomic classification of this microbiome. However, high-quality reference genomes are still needed for precise taxonomic classifications. Two recent studies independently report genome references of cultivated human gut bacteria. Zou et al. present the Culturable Genome Reference (CGR), which reports about 1,500 microbial genomes (264 new genomes) from 155 donors, representing more than 300 bacterial species. In addition, Forster et al. present the Human Gastrointestinal Bacteria Culture Collection (HBC), which provides genome references for 737 bacterial isolates, representing 168 known species and 105 novel species. Both research groups purified and cultivated bacterial isolates from human fecal samples, although they used different culturing media. The increasing number of references will improve mapping of metagenomics reads and functional characterizations.