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Since their establishment in 2015, the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) tasked governments with constructing a multi-faceted approach to achieving an agreed-upon list of goals by 2030 (Akinsemolu, 2018). The rapidly-deteriorating state of the earth’s biosphere and reduction in the global quality of life prompted the UN to develop goals which could alleviate the worldwide impact of these detriments. If achieved, 17 goals were postulated to promote environmental, economic and social sustainability as well as further the progress that had already been made by the millennium development goals (CBD-WHO, 2015).
These goals were constructed upon the fact that biospheric and human-behavioral processes are interlinked and depend upon one another (Timmis et al., 2017). Such a linkage would imply that attempts to achieve one goal would promote the achievement of multiple other goals. Initially it was perceived that there were no means of making a major contribution to achieving the SDGs through microbial ecological research as it appears to merely be a subset of a vast array of scientific fields. However, it was realized that microbial ecology forms a fundamental cog in the multi-disciplinary machine which drives the sustainable development practices required to achieve the SDGs. Microbial ecology research makes major contributions to biotechnology, agriculture, medical fields, food industries and bioremediation industries (Barton & Northup, 2011). Therefore, its impact in accomplishing the SDGs is broad and multi-influential in achieving several, interlinked goals.
A significant example is the research undertaken by O’Toole and Paoli (2017) to optimize the human microbiome for improved health. Humans, animals and plants are home to communities of microbes; cumulatively referred to as a microbiome (Willey, et al., 2014). Variations in these microbiomes often lead to a loss of microbial metabolites and regulatory host pathway molecules. The constitution of an individual’s microbiome is crucial to maintaining their health (Timmis et al., 2017) . Consequently, disruptions of a microbiome such as that of the gut lead to diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity in individuals who are at a high risk for developing such illnesses. Microbial biotechnologists have developed a microbiome treatment; Live Biotherapeutics. This serves to replenish the lost, vital microbial metabolites to restore an individuals health to that of the level associated with their former healthy microbiome (O’Toole and Paoli, 2017).
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