What are the consequences of the disappearing human microbiota?

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Dec;7(12):887-94. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2245. Epub 2009 Nov 9.


Humans and our ancestors have evolved since the most ancient times with a commensal microbiota. The conservation of indicator species in a niche-specific manner across all of the studied human population groups suggests that the microbiota confer conserved benefits on humans. Nevertheless, certain of these organisms have pathogenic properties and, through medical practices and lifestyle changes, their prevalence in human populations is changing, often to an extreme degree. In this Essay, we propose that the disappearance of these ancestral indigenous organisms, which are intimately involved in human physiology, is not entirely beneficial and has consequences that might include post-modern conditions such as obesity and asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Symbiosis


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal