The human intestinal microbiota is composed of approximately 100,000 billion microorganisms with the average total number of different commensal bacterial species estimated at over 500 per individual. The human intestinal microbiota can be considered as an organ within another, which co-evolved with its host to achieve a symbiotic relationship leading to physiological homeostasis. The host provides an environment enriched in nutrients and the microbiota provides essential functions. Dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota (changes in bacterial composition) has been associated with local dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome but also with obesity and metabolic diseases. However, a better understanding of the human intestinal ecosystem is still needed to understand the exact role of the microbiota in health and disease. Most intestinal bacteria are anaerobic and therefore, for the large majority, impossible to culture at present. Consequently, their function cannot be inferred from data on their composition. Today, with the help of a metagenomic approach, the bacterial genomic content of an ecosystem and the associated functions can be directly accessed from the environment without culture.
Keywords: Ecosystem; Inflammation; Metagenomic; Microbiota; Microbiote; Métagénomique; Écosystème.
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