Which experimental systems should we use for human microbiome science?

PLoS Biol. 2018 Mar 19;16(3):e2005245. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2005245. eCollection 2018 Mar.


Microbiome science is revealing that the phenotype and health of animals, including humans, depend on the sustained function of their resident microorganisms. In this essay, I argue for thoughtful choice of model systems for human microbiome science. A greater variety of experimental systems, including wider use of invertebrate models, would benefit biomedical research, while systems ill-suited to experimental and genetic manipulation can be used to address very limited sets of scientific questions. Microbiome science benefits from the coordinated use of multiple systems, which is facilitated by networks of researchers with expertise in different experimental systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Research Design*