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  • 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
  • As microbiome science expands, academic centres scramble to fill many needs, from service provider to industry liaison. A newly created network aims to share strategies and accelerate knowledge transfer, and invites others to join the efforts.

    • Jennifer B. H. Martiny
    • Katrine L. Whiteson
    • Joel L. Sachs
  • Innovations in teaching STEM subjects can help build critical science literacy and address global economic needs. Virology teachers and researchers are actively developing and integrating innovative educational materials for students, creating engaging teaching programs and improving information platforms for the general public.

    • Esperanza Gomez-Lucia
    • Christopher H. Logue
    • Rob Lavigne
  • Looking back at how Zika virus emergence was handled during and after the 2015–2016 outbreak will be important for assessing how well multiple relevant stakeholders were integrated to mount a response, and can provide the groundwork to better cope with emerging infections in the future.

    • Marc Lecuit
    • Laurent Nguyen
  • A noticeable part of the microbiome literature, especially that working with low-biomass samples, is plagued by reagent contamination. Here we describe visual, statistical, methodical and ecological techniques to facilitate recognition of signals that represent contamination.

    • Marcus C. de Goffau
    • Susanne Lager
    • Julian Parkhill
  • Pandemic influenza remains the single greatest threat to global heath security. Efforts to increase our preparedness, by improving predictions of viral emergence, spread and disease severity, by targeting reduced transmission and improved vaccination and by mitigating health impacts in low- and middle-income countries, should receive renewed urgency.

    • Peter Horby
  • Faecal microbiota richness is considered a hallmark of gut health and stability. However, in healthy hosts, richness would primarily reflect the stage of ecosystem development through the gut, rather than community resilience. This Comment discusses the need to rethink microbiome biomarkers in the context of gut ecology.

    • Gwen Falony
    • Sara Vieira-Silva
    • Jeroen Raes
  • Antimicrobial resistance is one of the great challenges for twenty-first century healthcare. While new therapeutics are undoubtedly required, there are major challenges in rapidly identifying resistant infections and tailoring therapy accordingly; and in how we deploy antimicrobials with suppression of resistance in mind.

    • Gavin Barlow
  • The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Richard Henderson and Joachim Frank for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, a technique for high-resolution structural determination of biomolecules in solution that has provided unprecedented insight into the biology of microorganisms.

    • Catherine M. Oikonomou
    • Grant J. Jensen
  • In many countries, the success of misinformation, alternative facts or fake news is promoting a climate of science denial, where false claims such as vaccination causing autism can spread. Learning lessons from behavioural studies can help advocate for vaccination in the face of vaccine refusers and deniers.

    • Cornelia Betsch
  • CRISPR–Cas is an adaptive immune system found in Bacteria and Archaea that confers sequence-specific protection against invasion by foreign nucleic acids. CRISPR–Cas is also a powerful tool for microbiology education and has been an inspiring model for our students for the past three years.

    • Luc Trudel
    • Michel Frenette
    • Sylvain Moineau
  • Many species of Archaea, Bacteria and eukaryotes are polyploid in natural populations. The mixture of species with unknown but widely varying ploidy levels compromises marker-gene-based analyses of community structures, population dynamics and microbiomes.

    • Jörg Soppa