While the existence of skin-associated bacteria and fungi has been long-documented with culture-based studies, genomic sequencing studies enable identification of fastidious organisms and the simultaneous study of individual species and microbial communities. My laboratory has performed foundational studies of both the skin bacterial and fungal communities of healthy volunteer. Our clinical studies have focused on children with moderate to severe AD, who often progress to develop other atopic disorders, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Our objective is to investigate whether microbial diversity might serve as a biomarker to predict a change in disease progression and to direct an individual patients treatment. Our human skin microbiome research is carried out under clinicaltrials.gov NCT00605878;PI: Segre. We analyzed the composition of bacterial communities during AD disease states to identify characteristics associated with AD flares and improvement post-treatment27. Disease severity was assessed quantitatively with SCORAD (SCORing AD), a well-validated clinical tool31. Our longitudinal study of pediatric AD patients shows a drop in skin microbial diversity and an increase in Staphylococcus aureus with disease flare (Kong et al, Genome Research, 2012). We found that microbial community structures at sites of disease predilection were dramatically different in AD patients compared with controls. Microbial diversity during AD flares was dependent on recent treatment, with even intermittent treatment linked to greater bacterial diversity. In AD, the proportion of Staphylococcus sequences, particularly S. aureus, was greater during disease flares than at baseline or post-treatment and correlated with worsened disease severity. These findings demonstrate that, as compared to culture-based studies, higher resolution examination of microbiota associated with human disease provides novel insights into global shifts of bacteria relevant to disease progression and treatment. Our previous human micobiome projects have focused primarily on bacterial diversity for technical reasons, such as DNA preparations, which did not lyse fungi, and for analytic reasons, such as the limited bioinformatics tools. We built a fungal classification database, resolved taxonomic ambiguities, and implemented a pipeline for classification of fungal sequences (Findley et al, Nature 2013). We sequenced and analyzed fungal and bacterial communities of skin sites from healthy adults. Eleven core body and arm sites were dominated by Malassezia fungi, with species-level classifications revealing greater topographical resolution between sites. By contrast, three foot sites, plantar heel, toenail, and toeweb, exhibited tremendous fungal diversity. Our studies show that different forces shape bacterial and fungal communities. Variation in bacterial communities segregated strongly by skin physiology, grouping into sebaceous, moist and dry sites. By contrast, variation in fungal communities segregated more strongly by site location, with feet, arm, head and torso sites forming discrete groups. These results provide a framework to investigate interactions between fungal and bacterial communities in maintaining human health and contributing to disease pathogenesis. Mechanistically, we are assessing the skin microbiomes role in driving AD with animal models recapitulating the skin disorder. Future microbiome studies will integrate genetics of both host (human) and microbes, realizing that we are superorganisms with trillions of microbes living in and on our bodies and integratinng gene-environment interactions.

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Segre, Julia A; Salafsky, Nick (2016) EVOLUTION. Hominid superorganisms. Science 353:350-1
Jo, Jay-Hyun; Deming, Clay; Kennedy, Elizabeth A et al. (2016) Diverse Human Skin Fungal Communities in Children Converge in Adulthood. J Invest Dermatol :
Tsai, Yu-Chih; Conlan, Sean; Deming, Clayton et al. (2016) Resolving the Complexity of Human Skin Metagenomes Using Single-Molecule Sequencing. MBio 7:e01948-15
Falcone, E Liana; Abusleme, Loreto; Swamydas, Muthulekha et al. (2016) Colitis susceptibility in p47(phox-/-) mice is mediated by the microbiome. Microbiome 4:13
Oh, Julia; Byrd, Allyson L; Park, Morgan et al. (2016) Temporal Stability of the Human Skin Microbiome. Cell 165:854-66
Fischbach, Michael A; Segre, Julia A (2016) Signaling in Host-Associated Microbial Communities. Cell 164:1288-300
Naik, Shruti; Bouladoux, Nicolas; Linehan, Jonathan L et al. (2015) Commensal-dendritic-cell interaction specifies a unique protective skin immune signature. Nature 520:104-8
Byrd, Allyson L; Segre, Julia A (2015) Elucidating microbial codes to distinguish individuals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:6778-9
Byrd, Allyson L; Segre, Julia A (2015) Integrating host gene expression and the microbiome to explore disease pathogenesis. Genome Biol 16:70
Nagao, Keisuke; Segre, Julia A (2015) "Bringing Up Baby" to Tolerate Germs. Immunity 43:842-4

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