Role of Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease

Aidan Wright


A microbiome is any specific environment that a microorganism lives in; this can include in nature, on a host’s epithelial layer, or inside a host. When referring to the microbiome of a host the most common thought is the collection of bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes inside the gastrointestinal tract. The gut microbiota deals with not only the microorganisms in this niche, but also how they interact with the host and their mutualistic relationship that has developed. Recent discoveries by scientists find that this complex and dynamic microbiome has a significant effect on how the rest of the body functions, not just the gastrointestinal tract. One of the most crucial roles these microorganisms have is “maintaining immune and metabolic homeostasis and protecting against pathogens” (Thursby and Juge, 2017). The effects of the gut microbiota on host health and disease are still being uncovered and studied, however, it is known that variations in bacterial composition of the host has been linked to pathogenesis. It is only in the last decade that scientists have been able to extensively study the mechanisms of the gut microbiota. This research is possible due to a move from culture-based method in a laboratory to culture-independent studies (Thursby and Juge, 2017). More efficient research techniques are still being tested and discovered. Attempting to cultivate bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes outside their natural environment poses the greatest problem against furthering the knowledge of the gut microbiota because of its difficulty to accomplish.

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