March 3, 2017

Next Generation Microbial Ecology - Unilever

This is the fourth post in an abstract series covering the topics at the Eagle Symposium 2015 kindly provided by Barry Murphy, Microbiomics Science Lead at Unilever addressing the subject of "Next Generation Microbial Ecology"

Abstract: "Recent advances in next generation sequencing have had a significant impact on the field of microbial ecology. Microbiomics science has become a huge growth area with analysis of soil, water and, of course,  the human microbiome gaining more and more research focus. 16S amplicon sequencing has become the mainstay of this analysis, but whereas the ability to produce an order of magnitude more reads has been impressive, the short nature of these reads presents its own complications.
Unilever has embraced the technological advances in this area with microbiomics forming a part of the company’s R&D strategy.  Over the past number of years a shift from plate-based microbiology to 454 sequencing and more recently to Illumina sequencing has accelerated the rate at which microbial communities can be profiled, and thus provide critical insights into community structure and function that enable the production of improved personal care products.
Many challenges remain, however. Metagenomics can provide information on community potential but moving forward metatranscriptomics and single cell biology will play a key role in advancing microbial ecology. Also much work remains to be carried out in the area of modelling microbial community metabolism to allow for rapid in-silico screening methods. Only a collaborative effort between molecular biologists, bioinformaticians, systems biologists and mathematicians will allow the full potential of this exciting field of science to reveal itself."


Barry Murphy, Unilever Barry Murphy, Microbiomics Science Lead, Unilever

Speaker's Bio:   While studying at University College Dublin, Barry Murphy received his undergraduate degree in Microbiology and Ph.D. concerning the production of novel anti-fungal polyketides through genetic engineering of producing strains.  Barry went on to complete a two-year PostDoc at the University of Leicester to carry out chemical characterisation of analogues using NMR, LC-NMR, GCMS and LCMS. After which, Barry spent four years working for a commercial DNA sequencing company, Source BioSceince, where he was responsible for setting up a Sanger sequencing facility in Dublin followed by a move to Nottingham to manage all NGS operations.  For the past year, Barry has been at Unilever leading the microbiomics research team with a primary goal of using NGS technologies to profile microbial communities in Unilever-relevant environments, identifying causes of microbial dysbiosis in relation to diseased states and establishing intervention methods.

Eagle Symposium 2015:  Eagle Genomics organises an annual industry symposium in the promotion of innovation and advancement in genomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology to help address global issues. The Eagle Symposium 2015 builds on the theme "Bridging Biology and Informatics for R&D Innovation", taking place on 23 March 2015 at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.



Topics: Bioinformatics, bioinformatics impact, Blog, computational biology, Eagle symposium, microbial research, microbiomics, Unilever