A chat with Sarkis K. Mazmanian

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Nature Reviews Microbiology and to give our readers a glimpse behind the curtains, we asked a few of our past authors about their views on microbiology, the journal and their experiences of working with the journal.
A chat with Sarkis K. Mazmanian

In your opinion, what have been the most noteworthy advances in the field of microbiology research in the past 15 years? Looking forward, what do you expect to be the most exciting advances in the next few years?

The field of microbiology is experiencing a renaissance that started about 15 years ago, largely based (in my opinion) on the conceptual paradigm shift in viewing the beneficial impact of bacteria on their environment. While the field had been predominately engaged in the study of microbial pathogenesis through the turn of the century, advances in genomics allowed for analysis of complex microbial communities that allowed research beyond study of isolated organisms, such as pathogens. These advances have brought us closer to approaches for studying microbes in their natural habitats, which are almost always in polymicrobial communities. Research in the microbiome is expanding at a rapid pace, and we are learning fascinating details about our daily and lifelong interactions with microbes in unprecedented resolution. The future of emerging research into the microbiome will be to leverage these insights to improve health, agriculture and the environment.

Do you have a favourite article that was published in Nature Reviews Microbiology, and if so, can you tell us why?

My favorite article, while there are many that I have truly enjoyed over the years, is likely the seminal review by O'Toole and colleagues as this was one of the first to highlight the potential of the microbiome to the broad readership of Nature Reviews Microbiology

Genome-scale analyses of health-promoting bacteria: probiogenomics
Marco Ventura, Sarah O'Flaherty, Marcus J. Claesson, Francesca Turroni, Todd R. Klaenhammer, Douwe van Sinderen & Paul W. O'Toole
Nature Reviews Microbiology 7, 61–71 (2009)

You have written for Nature Reviews Microbiology in the past, can you tell us about the experience?

Our experience with publishing in Nature Reviews Microbiology was both pleasant and educational. The staff worked closely with us to shape the content and presentation, as well as with the illustrations. The care and effort provided the experienced editors at the journal not only improved the manuscript, but also was a learning lesson in how to convey our message in a coherent and compelling way to the audience. I believe the intimate interactions with the editors throughout the process led to the success of the final publication, which has been cited over 350 times in 2 years.

Read the Review by Sarkis K. Mazmanian and colleagues here:

Gut biogeography of the bacterial microbiota
Gregory P. Donaldson, S. Melanie Lee & Sarkis K. Mazmanian
Nature Reviews Microbiology 14, 20–32 (2016)

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