The Human Gut Microbiota

Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 902)


The microbiota in our gut performs many different essential functions that help us to stay healthy. These functions include vitamin production, regulation of lipid metabolism and short chain fatty acid production as fuel for epithelial cells and regulation of gene expression. There is a very numerous and diverse microbial community present in the gut, especially in the colon, with reported numbers of species that vary between 400 and 1500, for some those we even do not yet have culture representatives.

A healthy gut microbiota is important for maintaining a healthy host. An aberrant microbiota can cause diseases of different nature and at different ages ranging from allergies at early age to IBD in young adults. This shows that our gut microbiota needs to be treated well to stay healthy. In this chapter we describe what we consider a healthy microbiota and discuss what the role of the microbiota is in various diseases. Research into these described dysbiosis conditions could lead to new strategies for treatment and/or management of our microbiota to improve health.


Microbiota Development Obesity Aberrant microbiota Diabetes 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermie J. M. Harmsen
    • 1
  • Marcus. C. de Goffau
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medical MicrobiologyUniversity of Groningen, University Medical Center GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Wellcome Trust Sanger InstituteCambridgeUK

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