9 July 2024

A practical introduction to holo-omics


The study of holobionts, which is an animal and plant species in association with all of their microorganisms, is complex and therefore often challenging. A new methodology paper highlights critical decision points aiming to improve study designs and analyses for a better understanding of host-microbiota relationships.

holo-omics data management

This new publication introduces a practical methodology for the growing field of holo-omics, which involves the joint study of non-targeted molecular data layers from host-microbiota systems, also known as holobionts. This innovative approach is becoming increasingly vital in understanding the complex interactions within these biological systems and it is based on the expertise acquired in the past 4+ years of technology optimisation and implementation in the EU horizon 2020 funded HoloFood project

A new methodology

The new methodology delves into the generation, analysis, and integration of omics data, emphasising both the commonalities and differences in generating and analysing various types of omics data. A key aspect of this methodology is its focus on optimising data generation and integration.

The authors, all from the Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics, advocate for a meticulous process of data generation and distillation, recommending that researchers conduct independent exploration and analysis of single omic layers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the study system. Only after these steps should the integration of multiple omic layers into a final model be attempted.

Critical decision points

The publication also highlights critical decision points necessary to achieve successful integration of omic data and flags the main challenges researchers face when addressing complex biological questions related to the study of host-microbiota relationships.

This new methodology promises to enhance the precision and depth of holo-omics research, paving the way for more accurate insights into the intricate dynamics of holobionts and advancing our understanding of the biological world.

Find the open access publication in Cell Reports Methods here.


Associate Professor Antton Alberdi