Next Generation Microbiome Research: Identification of Keystone Species in the Metabolic Regulation of Host-Gut Microbiota Interplay

Sep 1, 2021

Héloïse Tudela, Sandrine P. Claus and Maya Saleh

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The community of the diverse microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract, known as the gut microbiota, is exceedingly being studied for its impact on health and disease. This community plays a major role in nutrient metabolism, maintenance of the intestinal epithelial barrier but also in local and systemic immunomodulation. A dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, characterized by an unbalanced microbial ecology, often leads to a loss of essential functions that may be associated with proinflammatory conditions. Specifically, some key microbes that are depleted in dysbiotic ecosystems, called keystone species, carry unique functions that are essential for the balance of the microbiota.

In this review, we discuss current understanding of reported keystone species and their proposed functions in health. We also elaborate on current and future bioinformatics tools needed to identify missing functions in the gut carried by keystone species.

We propose that the identification of such keystone species functions is a major step for the understanding of microbiome dynamics in disease and toward the development of microbiome-based therapeutics.

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