We are covered with a complex microbial community, known as our microbiota, which plays important roles in our physiology, immunity, metabolism and sustenance. Within the human gastrointestinal tract alone there are over 1,000 bacterial species, which amounts to approximately 10 times more cells than we harbor in our entire body and 200 times more genes than are found within our genome. We are really a 'supraorganism' consisting of our 'human' and 'microbial' selves.
Remarkably, the majority of microbes found within our microbiota have not been cultured, nor described. This is a major limitation for phenotypic and mechanistic studies to understand the basic functions of our microbiota in determining the host's health or disease status. We still have a lot to understand about ourselves and the functions of our human genome in controlling our surroundings in terms of our microbiota. Investigating and understanding these situations raise the possibility that targeting the restoration of a dysbiotic microbiota back to a healthy population mix by using defined formulations of health-associated bacteria could protect against, or treat, certain diseases.