What is the Microbiome?

The human microbiome is the population of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in our bodies. These microbial communities have numerous beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They are needed to digest food, to prevent disease-causing bacteria from invading the body, and to synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins.

The total number of genes associated with the human microbiome exceeds the total number of human genes by a factor of 100-to-one. With the advancement of genomic technologies, the capacity of this second genome to influence health can now be harnessed as a function of the whole community rather than as isolated bacterial species.