You say microbiota, I say microbiome: The 8 word guide to the microbiota


     
red blood cells In a recently published article, The vocabulary of microbiome research: a proposal, authors Marchesi and Ravel propose how scientists should use words associated with microbiome, or rather microbiota, research. This editorial published in Microbiome (2015, 3:31), not only proposes how words like Metataxonomics, Metabonomics and Microbiome should be used, it also provides references and technical justification for proper word usage.

Common Vocabulary is Crucial

In a field growing as rapidly as microbiota research, using a common vocabulary is crucial to helping readers understand exactly what an author is conveying when they use metabolomics vs metabonomics or microbiota vs microbiome.

Common Microbiata Misnomers

The authors also point out some misnomers that are in common use such as "16S survey" in "studies discussing metataxonomic analyses relying on sequencing and analysis of 16S rRNA genes". They suggest the better and more descriptive phrase would be "16S rRNA genes" or "16S rRNA gene sequencing/analysis."

Microflora and the Microbial Communities

A full paragraph is devoted to the use of the word "microflora" often used to describe the microbial communities associated with humans. As the authors point out, "flora" derives from Greek and Latin words used to describe "the plants of a particular region or period, listed by species and considered as a whole". The use of microflora has gained popularity over the past 100 years and some dictionaries now have a definition for microflora that includes intestinal flora," The authors have done a good job surveying the literature and critically assessing the use of words associated with microbiota research.

Reference:
Julian R. Marchesi and Jacques Ravel. (2015) The vocabulary of microbiome research: a proposal. Microbiome 20153:31.