Researchers began to learn more about the community of microbes that resides in our gastrointestinal tract as they gained advanced genomic techniques and computing power. Evidence continues to mount that human health is closely related to that community, called the gut microbiome. A new study has observed how the microbiota of individuals changes over time, in periods ranging from several days to months. Scientists want to begin to characterize this complex system.
In this new work, the scientists found that there were fluctuations in the makeup of the microbiome, in terms of species present and the relative amounts of each, in people over time. Those changes were influenced by a variety of factors such as diet, medication, age and disease.
Understanding more about the microbiota and building a framework to study and assay it is critical if it is to be harnessed to help improve patient health, and also to ensure that any treatments that patients may be receiving are not affecting the microbiome adversely.