Glossary - Genomics / Microbiomics

The genomic and microbiomic fields are full of terms which are not familiar to many people in the industry sector. What does it mean when we read transcriptomics, metabolomics or epigenomics…?

Paula Schwenke

The glossary gives an orientation, but is not claiming to be approved by the “international definition bodies…”.  It should, however, help us to understand what is written and blogged about and in the agenda of the conference.


Autoimmunity is the system of immune responses of an organism against its own healthy cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an "autoimmune disease".


Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that develops methods and software tools for understanding biological data.


A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared physical climate.


Is the quantitative cell analysis and study using bioimaging methods and bioinformatics.

Cognitive genomics       

Cognitive genomics examines the changes in cognitive processes associated with genetic profiles.

Comparative genomics

Study of the relationship of genome structure and function across different biological species or strains.


Structural and functional brain connectivity at different spatiotemporal scales. The study of the connectome, the totality of the neural connections in the brain.


A field of science that deals with the collection, interpretation, and storage of information about gene and protein activity within particular cell or tissue of an organism in response to drug substances.


Study of the environmental microbiome, isolate and characterize all microorganisms from environmental samples. Currently, only 5% of all microorganisms from the environment can be cultured and identified.


Cell lineages of embryonic cells, genes expressed and antigens present during development


Gene related environment factors (envirome)


Epigenomics is the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence and the study of the complete set of epigenetic modifications on the genetic material of a cell, collectively known as the epigenome


Exons in a genome, just as the entire set of genes for a species constitutes the genome, the entire set of exons constitutes the exome. An exon is any part of a gene that will encode a part of the final mature RNA produced by that gene after introns have been removed by RNA splicing. The term exon refers to both the DNA sequence within a gene and to the corresponding sequence in RNA transcripts. In RNA splicing, introns are removed and exons are covalently joined to one another as part of generating the mature messenger RNA.


An individual's environmental exposures, including in the prenatal environment, A proposed term and field of study of the disease-causing effects of environmental factors (the "nurture" component of "nature vs. nurture").


Foodomics is a new approach to food and nutrition related to bioactivity, quality, safety and traceability of foods through the application and integration of advanced omics technologies to improve consumer’s well-being, health, and confidence.

Functional genomics    

Functional genomics aims at identifying the functions of as many genes as possible of a given organism. It combines different -omics techniques such as transcriptomics and proteomics with saturated mutant collections. Describes gene and protein functions and interactions (often uses transcriptomics).


"Genome" refers to the set of all genes in an organism. However, "genome" was coined decades before it was discovered that most DNA is "non-coding" and not part of a gene; thus, "genome" originally referred to the entire collection of DNA within an organism.


is the comprehensive study of the glycome i.e. sugars and carbohydrates.


Healthomics is the omics study of health related omics such as genomics, patientome, medical informe, proteome, and drugome.


Genomes of community members


Immunology is a branch of biology that covers the study of immune systems in all organisms.


Study of large sets of proteins (proteomics) involved in the immune response

Marine Biome  

Study of the bacterial colonization in the sea, the marine biome is the largest biome in the world. It takes up a whopping 70% of the Earth and accounts for 90% of the world’s water supply. This biome boasts of more than 230 distinct species. Marine biome is characterized by salty waters that have a lot of biodiversity making up numerous complex ecosystems


The mechanical systems within an organism


Metabolites, all products of a biological reaction (including intermediates). Scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites. It is a "systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind", the study of their small-molecule metabolite profiles


The quantitative measurement of the dynamic multiparametric metabolic response of living systems to pathophysiological stimuli or genetic modification


Metagenomics is the study of genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples, the genetic material is assumed to contain DNA from multiple organisms and therefore multiple genomes.


A microorganism, or microbe, is a microscopic organism, which may exist in its single-celled form or in a colony of cells. Microbes includes bacteria, protozoa, fungi, algae, amoebas, and slime molds.


Ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space (Collection of microorganisms in another organism such as an animal)


Monoamine neurotransmitters are neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that contain one amino group connected to an aromatic ring by a two-carbon chain (such as -CH2-CH2-). Examples are dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine.


Multiomics refers to a biological analysis approach in which the data sets are multiple "omes", such as the genome, proteome, transcriptome, epigenome, and microbiome. In other words, the use of multiple omics technologies to study life in a concerted way. By combining these omes into a set of omes, scientists can analyze complex biological big data efficiently enough to easily find relevant biomarkers.


Study of genetic influences on the development and function of the nervous system.


Study of the complete set of genomic components which form the cell nucleus as a complex, dynamic biological system, referred to as the nucleom.


Nutrigenetics studies the effect of genetic variations on the interaction between diet and health with implications to susceptible subgroups


Study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression. Studies the effect of nutrients on the genome, proteome, and metabolome


Identifying the molecular targets of nutritive and non-nutritive components of the diet. Uses proteomics mass spectrometry data for protein expression studies

Nutritional genomics   

A science studying the relationship between human genome, nutrition and health.


Omics aims at the collective characterization and quantification of pools of biological molecules that translate into the structure, function, and dynamics of an organism or organisms.


Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.


Organ interactions. The study of crosstalk between organs using physiologically relevant in-vitro models.


Pathomics characterize tumor properties at different biological scales and drive a need to understand correlations between extracted image features, genomics, and clinical outcomes.


Study of the bacterial colonization of patients

Personal genomics        

Branch of genomics concerned with the sequencing and analysis of the genome of an individual.


SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphism) and their effect on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics


Pharmacogenomics is the study of the role of the genome in drug response. Pharmacogenomics analyzes how the genetic makeup of an individual affects his/her response to drugs.


Systematic study of phenotypes


The phenotype (from Greek, Modern phainein, meaning 'to show', and typos, meaning 'type') of an organism is the composite of the organism's observable characteristics or traits, including its morphology or physical form and structure; its developmental processes; its biochemical and physiological properties; its behavior, and the products of behavior, for example, a bird's nest.


Physiology of an organism


Study of the microorganisms from plant samples.


Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.


Probiotics are live microorganisms intended to provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora


An emerging field of biological research at the intersection of proteomics and genomics. Proteomics data used for gene annotations.


The proteome is the entire set of proteins that is, or can be, expressed by a genome, cell, tissue, or organism at a certain time.


Large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions. Mass spectrometry techniques are used.


Process of applying the powerful tools of genomics and proteomics to achieve a better understanding of the biological substrates of normal behavior and of diseases of the brain that manifest themselves as behavioral abnormalities. Applying psychogenomics to the study of drug addiction, the ultimate goal is to develop more effective treatments for these disorders as well as objective diagnostic tools, preventive measures, and eventually cures.

Public Health    

Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals"


Transcription factors and other molecules involved in the regulation of gene expression


Influences on language acquisition

Stem cell genomics       

Helps in stem cell biology. Aim is to establish stem cells as a leading model system for understanding human biology and disease states and ultimately to accelerate progress toward clinical translation.

Structural genomics      

Study of 3-dimensional structure of every protein encoded by a given genome using a combination of experimental and modeling approaches.


Cell and tissue structure


a field of science that deals with the collection, interpretation, and storage of information about gene and protein activity within particular cell or tissue of an organism in response to toxic substances.


Transcriptomics technologies are the techniques used to study an organism’s transcriptome, the sum of all of its RNA transcripts, including mRNA, rRNA, tRNA and other ncRNAs. The information content of an organism is recorded in the DNA of its genome and expressed through transcription.


Study of the bacterial colonization of the vagina.


Virome refers to the collection of nucleic acids, both RNA and DNA, that make up the viral community associated with a particular ecosystem.

Wellness and health omics       

The WHOLE approach to personalized medicine represents an effort to integrate clinical and genomic profiling jointly into preventative health care and the promotion of wellness. The premise is that genotypes alone are insufficient to predict health outcomes, since they fail to account for individualized responses to the environment and life history.

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