Skin microbiota: microbial community structure and its potential association with health and disease

Infect Genet Evol. 2011 Jul;11(5):839-48. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.03.022. Epub 2011 Apr 2.


Skin, the largest human organ, is a complex and dynamic ecosystem inhabited by a multitude of microorganisms. Host demographics and genetics, human behavior, local and regional environmental characteristics, and transmission events may all potentially drive human skin microbiota variability, resulting in an alteration of microbial community structure. This alteration may have important consequences regarding health and disease outcomes among individuals. More specifically, certain diversity patterns of human microbiota may be predictive or diagnostic of disease. The purpose of this review is to briefly describe the skin microbiota, outline the potential determining factors driving its variability, posit the likelihood of an association between the resulting microbial community structure on the skin with disease outcomes among individuals, and finally, to present some challenges and implications for studying the skin microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Biodiversity
  • Humans
  • Microbial Interactions
  • Skin / microbiology*