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Synergies of Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology in Human Microbiome Studies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Bouchra Ezzamouri, Saeed Shoaie, Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro

Original languageEnglish
Article number681982
Pages (from-to)681982
JournalFrontiers in microbiology
Published31 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: RL-A gratefully acknowledges support from 19-ERACoBioTech-33 SyCoLim BB/T011408/1, BBSRC BB/T013176/1, and BB/R01602X/1, British Council 527429894, European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (DEUSBIO—949080). SS was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), EP/S001301/1, Biotechnology Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) BB/S016899/1, Science for Life Laboratory. Publisher Copyright: © Copyright © 2021 Ezzamouri, Shoaie and Ledesma-Amaro. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


A number of studies have shown that the microbial communities of the human body are integral for the maintenance of human health. Advances in next-generation sequencing have enabled rapid and large-scale quantification of the composition of microbial communities in health and disease. Microorganisms mediate diverse host responses including metabolic pathways and immune responses. Using a system biology approach to further understand the underlying alterations of the microbiota in physiological and pathological states can help reveal potential novel therapeutic and diagnostic interventions within the field of synthetic biology. Tools such as biosensors, memory arrays, and engineered bacteria can rewire the microbiome environment. In this article, we review the computational tools used to study microbiome communities and the current limitations of these methods. We evaluate how genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) can advance our understanding of the microbe–microbe and microbe–host interactions. Moreover, we present how synergies between these system biology approaches and synthetic biology can be harnessed in human microbiome studies to improve future therapeutics and diagnostics and highlight important knowledge gaps for future research in these rapidly evolving fields.

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