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Title: Microbiome data: Current challenges and opportunities Authors:  Ekaterina Smirnova - Virginia Commonwealth University (United States) [presenting]
Abstract: The composition of microbial species in a human body is essential for maintaining human health, and it is associated with a number of diseases including obesity, bowel inflammatory disease, and bacterial vaginosis. Over the last decade, microbiome data analysis almost entirely shifted towards using samples taken directly from various sites of human body and to explore a large number of microbes using 16S or whole metagenome sequencing. With the growth and success of the microbiomics field, the size and complexity, and availability of the microbiome data in any given experiment have increased exponentially. We discuss several challenges that currently remain in microbiome research and directions towards resolving them. These include: 1) the lack of reproducibility in experiments; 2) statistical challenges in designing and analyzing longitudinal studies; and 3) opportunities for working with publicly available data sets. In particular, we discuss the variation in microbial samples between sampling processing methods and testing location discovered by the Microbiome Quality Control Project (MBQC), as well as approaches towards alleviating this technical variation.