The unexpected diversity of the human microbiome and metabolome far exceeds the complexity of the human genome. Although we now understand microbial taxonomic and genetic repertoires in some populations, we are just beginning to assemble the necessary computational and experimental tools to understand the metabolome in comparable detail. However, even with the limited current state of knowledge, individual connections between microbes and metabolites, between microbes and immune function, and between metabolites and immune function are being established. Here, we provide our perspective on these connections and outline a systematic research program that could turn these individual links into a broader network that allows us to understand how these components interact. This program will enable us to exploit connections among the microbiome, metabolome, and host immune system to maintain health and perhaps help us understand how to reverse the processes that lead to a wide range of immune and other diseases.
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