Bacterial species composition in the gut has emerged as an important factor in obesity and its related metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Out of thousands of bacterial species-level phylotypes inhabiting the human gut, the majority belong to two dominant phyla, the Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Members of the Bacteroidetes in particular have been associated with human metabolic diseases. However, their associations with disease are not always consistent between studies. Delving deeper into the diversity within the Bacteroidetes reveals a vast diversity in genomes and capacities, which partly explain how not all members respond equally to similar environmental conditions in their hosts. Here, we discuss the Bacteroidetes phylum, associations of its members with metabolic phenotypes, and efforts to characterize functionally their interactions with their hosts. Harnessing the Bacteroidetes to promote metabolic health will require a nuanced understanding of how specific strains interact with their microbial neighbors and their hosts under various conditions.
Keywords: Bacteroidetes; Gut microbiome; Obesity; Type 2 diabetes.