The human skin microbiome.
Byrd AL, Belkaid Y, Segre JA
Nat Rev Microbiol. Mar 2018. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017.157
COMMENT: Our skin is home to millions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that compose the skin microbiota. Skin acts as a physical barrier to prevent the invasion of foreign pathogens while providing a home to the commensal microbiota. Despite this, the skin is colonized by a diverse microbiota.
In this Review, Byrd et al. describe amplicon and shotgun metagenomic DNA sequencing studies that have been used to assess the taxonomic diversity of microorganisms that are associated with skin from the kingdom to the strain level. The authors discuss recent insights into skin microbial communities, including their composition in health and disease, the dynamics between species and interactions with the immune system, with a focus on Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus.
The development of novel software pipelines that exploit the depth of information that is available in sequencing data has advanced our understanding of the human skin microbiome. However, many questions remain regarding the function of the skin microbiota: what role do microorganisms have in the skin in maintaining health or promoting disease states?
Analyses of microbiome sequencing data from patients compared with healthy controls can be used to generate hypotheses about putative disease-causing microorganisms. Overall, the objective is to translate microbiome sequence data to functional studies that could inform the development of therapeutic modalities to ameliorate dysbiosis and counteract pathogens.