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Nature. 2017 Aug 2;548(7665):43-51. doi: 10.1038/nature23292.

The evolution of the host microbiome as an ecosystem on a leash.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.
2
Computational Biology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10065, USA.
3
Division of Infectious Diseases and Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

Abstract

The human body carries vast communities of microbes that provide many benefits. Our microbiome is complex and challenging to understand, but evolutionary theory provides a universal framework with which to analyse its biology and health impacts. Here we argue that to understand a given microbiome feature, such as colonization resistance, host nutrition or immune development, we must consider how hosts and symbionts evolve. Symbionts commonly evolve to compete within the host ecosystem, while hosts evolve to keep the ecosystem on a leash. We suggest that the health benefits of the microbiome should be understood, and studied, as an interplay between microbial competition and host control.

PMID:
28770836
PMCID:
PMC5749636
DOI:
10.1038/nature23292
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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