The gastrointestinal microbiome

Abria Magee, James Versalovic, Ruth Ann Luna

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Through the years, the individual microbes that reside in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract have been labeled as pathogens, commensals, uncultivable, or unidentifiable. While exploration of particular species in the discovery and diagnosis of disease remains paramount, it is the landscape of the microbial community that continues to offer greater clues to the role of microbes in human health and quality of life. In contrast to other body systems, the human GI microbiome is ecologically diverse and complex and plays an active role in digestion, metabolism, behavior, heart size, and the development of the mucosal immune system, among other associations (1, 2). The composition of the gut microbiota is influenced by diet, age, host genetics, antibiotic treatment, and the environment (e.g., psychological stress, hygiene, climate, and allergies) (3). The microbial communities found in the gut have also been shown to contribute, both negatively and positively, not only to health issues rooted in the GI tract, but also to those of the respiratory and central nervous systems. An imbalance or shift of the gut microbiome has been linked to the development of a variety of disorders including inflammatory bowel disease (4-6), gastric ulcers and cancer (7-10), autism spectrum disorder (11-15), and obesity and diabetes (16-19). Because of the implications related to these changes and the development of “unhealthy” microbiomes, research is ongoing to continue to refine the definition and composition of a “healthy” gut microbiome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMolecular Microbiology
Subtitle of host publicationDiagnostic Principles and Practice
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781683670797
ISBN (Print)9781555819071
StatePublished - Jan 27 2016


  • Antibiotic treatment
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Enteric pathogen
  • Fecal microbiota transplantation
  • Gut microbiome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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