The rise of high-throughput sequencing technologies and culture-independent microbial surveys has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of how microbes colonize, move about, and evolve in hospital environments. Genome analysis of individual organisms, characterization of population dynamics, and microbial community ecology are facilitating the identification of novel pathogens, the tracking of disease outbreaks, and the study of the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Here we review the recent applications of these methods to microbial ecology studies in hospitals and discuss their potential to influence hospital management policy and practice and to reduce nosocomial infections and the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Keywords: built environment microbiology; metagenomics; microbial ecology; nosocomial infections.
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