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If they had any say in the matter, microbes and molecules might object mass surveillance as strenuously as do citizens and consumers. But the laboratory isn’t a democracy or even a market. Accordingly, microbes must tolerate the vast data collection and analysis activities that are being used to characterize host-microbiome dynamics, just as molecules—proteins, lipids, metabolites, etc.—must accept multi-omic scrutiny. But to what purpose? Security, mainly. By quelling restive microbiomes, we may prevent metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. By uncovering covert molecular pathways, we may identify biomarkers and drug targets. Even where omics-informed approaches are unavailable, security-minded professionals may round up the usual suspects, whether the object is to eliminate multidrug-resistant microbes or clear viruses from biomanufacturing workflows.

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