Twenty important research questions in microbial exposure and social equity

Authors: Jake M Robinson, Nicole Redvers, Araceli Camargo, Christina A Bosch, Martin F Breed, Lisa A Brenner, Megan A Carney, Ashvini Chauhan, Mauna Dasari, Leslie G Dietz, Michael Friedman, Laura Grieneisen, Andrew J Hoisington, Patrick F Horve, Ally Hunter, Sierra Jech, Anna Jorgensen, Christopher A Lowry, Ioana Man, Gwynne Mhuireach, Edauri Navarro-Pérez, Euan G Ritchie, Justin D Stewart, Harry Watkins, Philip Weinstein, Suzanne L Ishaq

Published in: mSystems (American Society for Microbiology)


Social and political policy, human activities, and environmental change affect the ways in which microbial communities assemble and interact with people. These factors determine how different social groups are exposed to beneficial and/or harmful microorganisms, meaning microbial exposure has an important socioecological justice context. Therefore, greater consideration of microbial exposure and social equity in research, planning, and policy is imperative.

Here, we identify 20 research questions considered fundamentally important to promoting equitable exposure to beneficial microorganisms, along with safeguarding resilient societies and ecosystems. The 20 research questions we identified span seven broad themes, including the following:

  1. sociocultural interactions;
  2. Indigenous community health and well-being;
  3. humans, urban ecosystems, and environmental processes;
  4. human psychology and mental health;
  5. microbiomes and infectious diseases;
  6. human health and food security; and
  7. microbiome-related planning, policy, and outreach.

Our goal was to summarize this growing field and to stimulate impactful research avenues while providing focus for funders and policymakers.

Robinson JM, Redvers N, Camargo A, Bosch CA, Breed MF, Brenner LA, Carney MA, Chauhan A, Dasari M, Dietz LG, Friedman M, Grieneisen L, Hoisington AJ, Horve PF, Hunter A, Jech S, Jorgensen A, Lowry CA, Man I, Mhuireach G, Navarro-Pérez E, Ritchie EG, Stewart JD, Watkins H, Weinstein P, Ishaq SL (2022) Twenty Important Research Questions in Microbial Exposure and Social Equity. mSystems PDF DOI