Functions of the Microbiota for the Physiology of Animal Metaorganisms

J Innate Immun. 2019;11(5):393-404. doi: 10.1159/000495115. Epub 2018 Dec 19.


Animals are usually regarded as independent entities within their respective environments. However, within an organism, eukaryotes and prokaryotes interact dynamically to form the so-called metaorganism or holobiont, where each partner fulfils its versatile and crucial role. This review focuses on the interplay between microorganisms and multicellular eukaryotes in the context of host physiology, in particular aging and mucus-associated crosstalk. In addition to the interactions between bacteria and the host, we highlight the importance of viruses and nonmodel organisms. Moreover, we discuss current culturing and computational methodologies that allow a deeper understanding of underlying mechanisms controlling the physiology of metaorganisms.

Keywords: Host; Metaorganism; Microbiome; Microbiota; Physiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Computational Biology
  • Health Status
  • Host Microbial Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mucus / microbiology
  • Mucus / virology
  • Symbiosis / physiology