Research into the microbial community within the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) has developed from investigating micro-organisms that cause disease to trying to establish those that are important to maintain health. Thus we are now at a point where the bacterial community in healthy individuals has been well characterized, emphasizing the huge interindividual variation that exists. Molecular advances have also facilitated initial studies on establishing the composition of the viral and eukaryotic communities. In this article, we provide an overview of the current state of knowledge, illustrating the structure and function of the gut microbial community.

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