The microbial communities that inhabit our bodies can be thought of as unique fingerprints that both reflect and help determine many aspects of our health. Currently, metagenomic sequencing offers the best window we have into our microbiomes, which are primarily composed of uncultivated organisms. However, despite important insights gained from 20+ years of sequencing human microbiomes, it is estimated that 40-50% of species in the human gut microbiome lack reference genomes (Nayfach et al, 2019, Nature).
At One Codex our mission is to support and advance microbiome discovery through accurate, scalable, and easy-to-use software. By giving scientists better leverage over their genomics data, we’ve helped to accelerate programs in basic and translational research, infectious disease diagnostics, and therapeutics development. I’m thrilled to announce that One Codex has been acquired by Invitae, where our full team will continue our work to make microbiome data more reproducible, more accessible, and ultimately translatable to clinical practice.
Today, we’re very excited to launch a brand new feature on One Codex that lets you analyze your microbiome data in all new and exciting ways! Custom Plots is a powerful new application for interactively comparing and visualizing your microbiome data across cohorts of many samples. With Custom Plots, you can explore a variety of different microbiome metrics and plots that were previously only accessible through our Notebooks. This includes taxonomic bar charts (like our current “Quick Compare” tool), alpha diversity plots, and beta diversity plots like heatmaps or Principal Coordinate Analyses (PCoA).
When you’re planning a new study, there are a lot of factors to consider. These can include: What population should I target? How should I collect and store the samples? What analyte do I want to study, and how should I extract it from the samples? What kind of technology should I use, PCR, arrays, or sequencing? What sequencing approach should I use, amplicon or whole shotgun metagenome? How deeply should I sequence?
Microbiome studies are complex and require up front planning to ensure you get the data you need to answer your research questions. Poor study design can result in missing differences that exist between cohorts, or worse, it can lead to falsely identifying signals that are unrelated to your research questions. Here, we highlight some of the factors to consider when designing a microbiome study to ensure you get the most out of your study.