The microbiome re-defined!

Source: MicrobiomeSupport project

Project supported by the Phytobiomes Alliance, lead by Coordinating Committee member Angela Sessitsch

In 2019, MicrobiomeSupport organised a workshop with researchers from across the field to develop a definition of the word microbiome which could be broadly used and ensure an accurate exchange on the topic within research circles.

The researchers have now published an article which covers how they have reached the new definition and what has been considered in the process. It covers historical perspectives on micro-organisms, limitations with current uses of the word ‘microbiome’ and existing definitions, and outlines what is being taken into account such as:

  • microbe-microbe interactions,
  • how microbiomes change in time and space even though a core group of microbes may be present,
  • the role which different microbes have in microbial communities and how these communities evolved within their environment (be it soil, human, animal, water or plant),
  • the technical methods currently used in the microbiome research field
  • how the new definition holds up against future perspectives and potential challenges.


Berg, G., Rybakova, D., Fischer, D. et al. Microbiome definition re-visited: old concepts and new challenges. Microbiome 8, 103 (2020).