Advances in next-generation sequencing technologies and the application of metagenomic approaches have fuelled an exponential increase in our understanding of the human gut microbiome. These approaches are now also illuminating features of the diverse and abundant collection of viruses (termed the virome) subsisting with the microbial ecosystems residing within the human holobiont. Here, we focus on the current and emerging knowledge of the human gut virome, in particular on viruses infecting bacteria (bacteriophage or phage), which are a dominant component of this viral community. We summarise current insights regarding the form and function of this ‘human gut phageome’ and highlight promising avenues for future research. In doing so, we discuss the potential for phage to drive ecological functioning and evolutionary change within this important microbial ecosystem, their contribution to modulation of host–microbiome interactions and stability of the community as a whole, as well as the potential role of the phageome in human health and disease. We also consider the emerging concepts of a ‘core healthy gut phageome’ and the putative existence of ‘viral enterotypes’ and ‘viral dysbiosis’.

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