Giving microbes their due--animal life in a microbially dominant world

J Exp Biol. 2015 Jun;218(Pt 12):1968-73. doi: 10.1242/jeb.115121.


The new technology of next-generation sequencing is changing our perceptions of the form and function of the biological world. The emerging data reveal an array of microbes that is more vast and more central to all biological processes than previously appreciated. Further, evidence is accumulating that the alliances of microbes with one another and with constituents of the macrobiological world are critical for the health of the biosphere. This contribution summarizes the basic arguments as to why, when considering the biochemical adaptations of animals, we should integrate the roles of their microbial partners.

Keywords: Microbial biosphere; Symbiosis; Woese.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Animals
  • Archaea / physiology*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Symbiosis