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Current advances in microbiome sciences within the US Department of Defense—part 1: microbiomes for human health and performance
  1. Sophie M Colston1,
  2. R A Barbato2,
  3. M S Goodson3,
  4. J P Karl4,
  5. R J Kokoska5,
  6. D D Leary1,
  7. K Racicot6,
  8. V Varaljay7 and
  9. J W Soares6
  1. 1Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  2. 2Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  3. 3711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, USA
  4. 4Military Nutrition Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5Physical Sciences Directorate, US Army Research Office, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  6. 6Soldier Effectiveness Directorate, US Army Combat Capabilities and Development Command Soldier Center, Natick, Massachusetts, USA
  7. 7Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to J W Soares, Soldier Effectiveness Directorate, US Army Combat Capabilities and Development Command Soldier Center, Natick, MA 01760, USA; Jason.w.soares.civ{at}


Microbiomes involve complex microbial communities where the microorganisms interact with one another as well as their associated hosts or environmental niches. The characterisation of these communities and associations have largely been achieved through ‘omics’ technologies, such as metagenomics, metaproteomics and metametabolomics, and model systems. Recent research in host-associated microbiomes have been aimed at understanding the roles microbes may play in host fitness or conversely how host activities/conditions may perturb the microbial community, which can further affect host health. These studies have led to the investigation of detection, intervention or modulation methods, which may serve to provide benefits to the host and advance our understanding of microbiome associations. With the clear implications on human health and disease, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has made microbiome research a priority, with the founding of the Tri-Service Microbiome Consortium (TSMC) to enhance collaboration, coordination and communication of microbiome research among DoD organisations and partners in academia and industry. DoD microbiome research focuses mainly on the following themes: (1) Human health and performance; (2) Environmental microbiomes; and (3) Enabling technologies. This review provides an update of current DoD microbiome research efforts centred on human health and performance and highlights innovative research being done in academia and industry that can be leveraged by the DoD. These topics were also communicated and further discussed during the fifth Annual TSMC Symposium. This paper forms part of the special issue of BMJ Military Health dedicated to Personalised Digital Technology for Mental Health in the Armed Forces.

  • Microbiology

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  • Contributors SMC, RAB, MSG, JPK, RJK, DDL, KR, VV and JWS contributed to the writing and revising of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.

  • Funding This review and the Fifth Annual Tri‐Service Microbiome Consortium Symposium were supported by the Office of Naval Research.

  • Disclaimer All opinions or assertions contained here are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Army, Navy, Air Force or the Department of Defense. Any citations of commercial organisations and trade names in this report do not constitute an official Army, Navy, Air Force or Department of the Defense endorsement or approval of the products or services of these organisations. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.