Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Microbiology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 17, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
The microbiome refers to the totality of microorganisms, their collective genetic elements, and environmental interactions, in a specific environment. Trillions of microbes in the mammalian host play important roles in the development of the host immune system and the regulation of host metabolism, affecting myriad aspects of host physiology. Alterations to the normal human microbiome have serious pathological consequences, including the development and progression of many metabolic diseases, such as insulin resistance and diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, and infection. As a result, the microbiome can be considered as a therapeutic target for pre- and pro-biotic (or synbiotic) intervention and as a target for drug discovery.