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The gut microbiome: What every gastroenterologist needs to know

The term ‘microbiome’ has only been used for 20 years. It is something that we, as gastroenterologists and hepatologists, need to know about. In this issue, Mullish and colleagues provide an excellent update discussing the basic principles (including terminology), practical implications, and future directions – diagnostic and therapeutic – in this rapidly evolving field. It is difficult to even conceptualise 100 trillion microbial cells (the microbiota) which make up the gut microbiome. The authors in their overview discuss technology like next generation sequencing of bacterial genomes using samples from multiple sites which has enhanced our ‘in depth’ knowledge and applied bioinformatics used to describe particular microbial patterns with the functionality being explored using other systems biology techniques including metabonomics and proteomics. The authors helpfully walk us through the multiple different techniques and terminologies. The gut microbiome is not a bystander and has multiple different benefits to the host with alteration of composition (or dysbiosis) having potential impact on health and disease. The authors discuss specific conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, and clostridium difficile infection, and the gut microbiome as therapy including pre biotics, probiotics, and faecal microbiota transplant. It is great to have all the information in one place and such a comprehensive overview.

Read the review here.