The distal gut microbiota corresponds to all the microorganisms, essentially bacteria, that reside commonly in the colon. The microbial population is characterized by a large taxonomical diversity, counting approximately a thousand distinct bacterial species for a single individual. The pace of investigations of this microbial system has greatly accelerated these last few years, fuelled by the advent of metagenomics techniques, which do not rely on bacterial cultivation, but utilize high throughput DNA sequencing. In just a few years studies of the intestinal microbiota have become fashionable, albeit with often contradictory results when attempting to correlate changes in microbial composition to diverse pathologies. The article focuses on one of the essential functions of the distal gut microbiota: the digestion of the immense variety of polysaccharides from our diet that enzymes of the host cannot breakdown.
© 2014 médecine/sciences – Inserm.