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  • Diagnosis is the weakest aspect of tuberculosis (TB) care and control. We describe seven critical transitions that can close the massive TB diagnostic gap and enable TB programmes worldwide to recover from the pandemic setbacks.

    • Madhukar Pai
    • Puneet K. Dewan
    • Soumya Swaminathan
  • The extent and diversity of exposures to microbial stimuli have a crucial role in regulating the capacity of a host to mount an immune response to a challenge, such as vaccination, making exposure history an important factor to optimize in rodent models.

    • Yuhao Li
    • Megan T. Baldridge
  • The SARS-CoV-2 Africa dashboard is an interactive tool that enables visualization of SARS-CoV-2 genomic information in African countries. The customizable app allows users to visualize the number of sequences deposited in each country, and the variants circulating over time. Our dashboard enables near real-time exploration of public data that can inform policymakers, healthcare professionals and the public about the ongoing pandemic.

    • Joicymara S. Xavier
    • Monika Moir
    • Tulio de Oliveira
  • Here the implications of gender inequity in the face of infectious disease outbreaks such as Ebola and SARS-CoV-2 in Africa are discussed, with a proposal as to how we can address the unequal burden of outbreaks on women.

    • Agnes Binagwaho
    • Kedest Mathewos
  • Despite evidence of sex-specific pathogenesis, few studies of infectious diseases report or analyse sex or gender, unless it is the primary focus. Using HIV as an example, it is argued here that this leaves potentially informative data unexplored and that integrating sex and gender in analyses may accelerate research in microbial pathogenesis.

    • Eileen P. Scully
  • Understanding the interplay between the microbiome and menopause holds promise for new interventions to alleviate menopausal symptoms and improve quality of life for women.

    • Paweł Łaniewski
    • Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz
  • Space exploration carries with it risks of biological contamination. Here, the planetary protection efforts currently in place to control microbial contamination during space exploration are discussed, including plans related to sample and crew returns to Earth from other Solar System destinations such as Mars.

    • J. Andy Spry
  • Many bacteria and archaea are polyploid. Here, the means by which some of these prokaryotes carry genomes that are not always equivalent in sequence and/or function are described, and the importance of such non-equivalent genomes is discussed.

    • Jörg Soppa
  • Crystallizing biological complexity into animation has been Arkitek Scientific’s mission for the past 25 years. Co-founder Beth Anderson explains how she got started in science animation and why it remains her passion.

    • Beth Anderson
  • Microbiological research has made important discoveries about how life responds to non-terrestrial environments, such as those found aboard the International Space Station. As human space exploration transitions to longer, deep-space missions, microorganisms will continue to play an increasingly critical role in astronaut health, habitat sustainability and mission success.

    • Cheryl A. Nickerson
    • Audrie A. Medina-Colorado
    • C. Mark Ott
  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being integrated into bioeconomy strategies around the world, including the European Green Deal. We highlight how microbiome-based innovations can contribute to policies that interface with the SDGs and argue that international cooperation in microbiome science is crucial for success.

    • Kathleen D’Hondt
    • Tanja Kostic
    • Angela Sessitsch
  • In response to COVID-19, universities and other education providers pivoted rapidly from in-class learning to digital course instruction. Student tuition was deemed essential, thus swift change ensued. Similarly, if equity, diversity and inclusion are truly deemed essential at those same institutions, change could occur now — not later.

    • Beronda L. Montgomery
  • Big data abound in microbiology, but the workflows designed to enable researchers to interpret data can constrain the biological questions that can be asked. Five years after anvi’o was first published, this community-led multi-omics platform is maturing into an open software ecosystem that reduces constraints in ‘omics data analyses.

    • A. Murat Eren
    • Evan Kiefl
    • Amy D. Willis
  • Summer research programmes are renowned for encouraging underrepresented minorities (URMs) to pursue STEM careers, but COVID-19 left many students in the United States unable to participate. We created the National Summer Undergraduate Research Project to matchmake students with mentors, enabling 250 URM students to do summer research.

    • Michael D. L. Johnson
    • David A. Baltrus
    • Jennifer Gardy
  • How viruses are related, and how they have evolved and spread over time, can be investigated using phylogenetics. Here, we set out how genomic analyses should be used during an epidemic and propose that phylogenetic insights from the early stages of an outbreak should heed all of the available epidemiological information.

    • Ch. Julián Villabona-Arenas
    • William P. Hanage
    • Damien C. Tully
  • A precision approach to probiotics could address the heterogeneity inherent to probiotic strains, the hosts and their microbiomes. Here, we discuss the steps required to develop precision probiotics: mechanistic studies, phenotypic and target-based discovery strategies, and person-centric trials.

    • Patrick Veiga
    • Jotham Suez
    • Eran Elinav
  • Mutation. The word naturally conjures fears of unexpected and freakish changes. Ill-informed discussions of mutations thrive during virus outbreaks, including the ongoing spread of SARS-CoV-2. In reality, mutations are a natural part of the virus life cycle and rarely impact outbreaks dramatically.

    • Nathan D. Grubaugh
    • Mary E. Petrone
    • Edward C. Holmes
  • The atmosphere has undergone extensive physico-chemical change due to anthropogenic emissions. The impact on the ecology of the atmospheric microbiome has so far not been considered. Here, we define the scope of change to the atmosphere and identify potential microbial responses.

    • Stephen D. J. Archer
    • Stephen B. Pointing