Standardised animal models of host microbial mutualism

Mucosal Immunol. 2015 May;8(3):476-86. doi: 10.1038/mi.2014.113. Epub 2014 Dec 10.


An appreciation of the importance of interactions between microbes and multicellular organisms is currently driving research in biology and biomedicine. Many human diseases involve interactions between the host and the microbiota, so investigating the mechanisms involved is important for human health. Although microbial ecology measurements capture considerable diversity of the communities between individuals, this diversity is highly problematic for reproducible experimental animal models that seek to establish the mechanistic basis for interactions within the overall host-microbial superorganism. Conflicting experimental results may be explained away through unknown differences in the microbiota composition between vivaria or between the microenvironment of different isolated cages. In this position paper, we propose standardised criteria for stabilised and defined experimental animal microbiotas to generate reproducible models of human disease that are suitable for systematic experimentation and are reproducible across different institutions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Founder Effect*
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • Germ-Free Life / immunology*
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Symbiosis / immunology*