About Global Microbial Identifier

The genomic epidemiological database for global identification of microorganisms or global identifier of microorganisms is a platform for storing whole genome sequencing(WGS) data of microorganisms, for the identification of relevant genes and for the comparison of genomes to detect outbreaks and emerging pathogens.

Watch video on GMI by David J. Lipman (NCBI)

The database holds two types of information: 1) genomic information of microorganisms, linked to, 2) metadata of those microorganism such as epidemiological details. The database will include all genera of microorganisms: bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. 

In the era before WGS matured, scientists used different DNA profiling techniques, such as PCR, PFGE and MLST to genotype microorganisms for diagnostic sub-typing. However, in many cases scientists found that these pre-WGS techniques had major drawbacks such as difficulties in standardization between countries and between laboratories within countries. In addition, these pre-WGS techniques were often laborious and time consuming, required highly trained personnel and expensive equipment, and were in general relatively expensive. WGS overcomes many of these old problems.

This is achieved by feeding the WGS information of microbiological samples into a global genomic database, and comparing it via so-called BLAST procedures to the genomes in the database. The database then returns the sender with information on the microorganisms present in the sample, and important clinical andepidemiological information such as the global location of similar clones as well as treatment options.

In this way, the database approaches the unambiguous 'Global Identifier' for microorganisms that microbiologist always have looked for, and which makes personalized treatment possible as well as real-time systems for global surveillance of microorganisms general and infectious diseases in specific.

Read the letter sent from GMI regarding the potential of WGS that was sent to Ministries of Health and Agriculture of all countries. The focus of the letter was about the need to discuss the global implementation and novel utility of next generation sequencing in microbiology. The letter suggests a need to include these international issues in pertinent agendas of relevant inter-governmental organizations, notably WHO, FAO and OIE.


14 JULY 2024