Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and protozoa) that inhabit an environment, including plants, animals, soils, oceans, and our homes. As we peer into our bodies, half of the cells in a human are microbes, and the gene catalogue of these human-associated microbes dwarfs that of our own human genome by at least 100-fold. Members of the microbiome can range from helpful to harmful, but notably the vast majority do not cause disease. As a collective, microbial assemblages and their genomes have profound impacts on solutions related to agricultural production, human chronic diseases, and ecosystem stability, among others. As we break ground on understanding how these diverse communities impact life, it is clear that the new study of the microbiome is central to biological systems, education, and applications in a rapidly changing world.
With approximately 500 members, the Penn State Microbiome Center is one the largest and most active units in the field. This community of world-class faculty, staff, students, and external partners exists at the nexus of environmental, agricultural, and human health scholarship to expose a microbial world astonishing in its universality, diversity, and applications. We foster long-term working relationships while simultaneously providing infrastructure and resources to support transformative, interdisciplinary microbiome research at Penn State and beyond. As a growing and highly active organization, we are keen to continue to expand our program portfolio and develop new partnerships with academia, industry, private foundations, and donors.