Author(s): Maccaferri S, Biagi E, Brigidi P
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Abstract The human gastrointestinal tract harbors the most complex human microbial ecosystem (intestinal microbiota). The comprehensive genome of these microbial populations (intestinal microbiome) is estimated to have a far greater genetic potential than the human genome itself. Correlations between changes in composition and activity of the gut microbiota and common disorders, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, diabetes, and atopic diseases, have been proposed, increasing the interest of the scientific community in this research field. In this perspective, a comprehensive and detailed view of the human gut microbiota, in terms of phylogenetic composition as well as genetic and metabolic potential, is essential to understand the dynamics and possible mechanisms of the cause/effect relationships between gut microbiota and pathology. Metagenomics has emerged as one of the most powerful sequence-driven approaches to study the composition and the genetic potential of this complex ecosystem, and efforts in this direction have been smoothed by the implementation of next generation sequencing platforms. Here, we highlight the potential of the newest high-throughput, culture-independent approaches for the characterization of the human gut microbiome in health and disease. Recent and promising results in this field are presented, underlining the perspectives and future research direction of human gut microbial ecology. Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.
This article was published in Dig Dis
and referenced in Journal of Probiotics & Health