The human microbiome: exploring and manipulating our microbial selves
Corinne F. Maurice and Peter J. Turnbaugh
from: Metagenomics: Current Innovations and Future Trends (Edited by: Diana Marco). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2011)
The human body is home to roughly ten times more microbial cells than human cells, containing a vast array of genes and metabolic activities referred to in aggregate as the human microbiome. Metagenomics has recently enabled an initial map of the microbial diversity found in different body habitats, individuals, and populations. These developments include an extensive catalog of genes and genomes, characterization of the human gut viriome, a description of the patterns of succession of the gut microbiota during development, and links between obesity and the gut microbiome. The application of principles from macro-ecology, in addition to studies of defined communities in model organisms, have begun to reveal the basic operating principles that govern community assembly, stability, and function. These studies are beginning to move beyond simple characterizations of the organisms and genes found in a given habitat at a single timepoint, to a systems biology approach that allows the characterization of this complex microbial community at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. In the foreseeable future, studies of the human microbiome promise to reveal new biomarkers for disease, novel strategies for manipulation, and a more comprehensive view of human physiology read more ...