The human gut microbiota and virome: Potential therapeutic implications

Dig Liver Dis. 2015 Dec;47(12):1007-12. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2015.07.008. Epub 2015 Jul 18.


Human gut microbiota is a complex ecosystem with several functions integrated in the host organism (metabolic, immune, nutrients absorption, etc.). Human microbiota is composed by bacteria, yeasts, fungi and, last but not least, viruses, whose composition has not been completely described. According to previous evidence on pathogenic viruses, the human gut harbours plant-derived viruses, giant viruses and, only recently, abundant bacteriophages. New metagenomic methods have allowed to reconstitute entire viral genomes from the genetic material spread in the human gut, opening new perspectives on the understanding of the gut virome composition, the importance of gut microbiome, and potential clinical applications. This review reports the latest evidence on human gut "virome" composition and its function, possible future therapeutic applications in human health in the context of the gut microbiota, and attempts to clarify the role of the gut "virome" in the larger microbial ecosystem.

Keywords: Bacteriophages; Giant virus; Gut microbiota; Gut virome; Microviridae.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / isolation & purification
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / virology*
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Humans
  • Viruses / classification
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*