Human microbial ecology and the rising new medicine

Filipa Godoy-Vitorino


The first life forms on earth were Prokaryotic, and the evolution of all Eukaryotic life occurred with the help of bacteria. Animal-associated microbiota also includes members of the archaea, fungi, protists, and viruses. The genomes of this host-associated microbial life are called the microbiome. Across the mammalian tree, microbiomes guarantee the development of immunity, physiology, and resistance to pathogens. In humans, all surfaces and cavities are colonized by a microbiome, maintained by a careful balance between the host response and its colonizers—thus humans are considered now supraorganisms. These microbiomes supply essential ecosystem services that benefit health through homeostasis, and the loss of the indigenous microbiota leads to dysbiosis, which can have significant consequences to disease. This educational review aims to describe the importance of human microbial ecology, explain the ecological terms applied to the study of the human microbiome, developments within the cutting-edge microbiome field, and implications to diagnostic and treatment.