The animal and bacterial kingdoms have coevolved and coadapted in response to environmental selective pressures over hundreds of millions of years. The meta'omics revolution in both sequencing and its analytic pipelines is fostering an explosion of interest in how the gut microbiome impacts physiology and propensity to disease. Gut microbiome studies are inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on approaches and technical skill sets from the biomedical sciences, ecology, and computational biology. Central to unraveling the complex biology of environment, genetics, and microbiome interaction in human health and disease is a deeper understanding of the symbiosis between animals and bacteria. Experimental model systems, including mice, fish, insects, and the Hawaiian bobtail squid, continue to provide critical insight into how host-microbiota homeostasis is constructed and maintained. Here we consider how model systems are influencing current understanding of host-microbiota interactions and explore recent human microbiome studies.