BackgroundAs microbiome research becomes increasingly prevalent in the fields of human health, agriculture and biotechnology, there exists a need for a resource to better link organisms and environmental chemistries. Exometabolomics experiments now provide assertions of the metabolites present within specific environments and how the production and depletion of metabolites is linked to specific microbes. This information could be broadly useful, from comparing metabolites across environments, to predicting competition and exchange of metabolites between microbes, and to designing stable microbial consortia. Here, we introduce Web of Microbes (WoM; freely available at: http://webofmicrobes.org ), the first exometabolomics data repository and visualization tool.
DescriptionWoM provides manually curated, direct biochemical observations on the changes to metabolites in an environment after exposure to microorganisms. The web interface displays a number of key features: (1) the metabolites present in a control environment prior to inoculation or microbial activation, (2) heatmap-like displays showing metabolite increases or decreases resulting from microbial activities, (3) a metabolic web displaying the actions of multiple organisms on a specified metabolite pool, (4) metabolite interaction scores indicating an organism's interaction level with its environment, potential for metabolite exchange with other organisms and potential for competition with other organisms, and (5) downloadable datasets for integration with other types of -omics datasets.
ConclusionWe anticipate that Web of Microbes will be a useful tool for the greater research community by making available manually curated exometabolomics results that can be used to improve genome annotations and aid in the interpretation and construction of microbial communities.