Microbiomes in our Lives

Microbiome. Image credit: Darryl Leja, NHGRI

All plants and animals, from protists to humans, live in close association with microbial organisms that form microbiotas. A microbiota is an "ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms found in and on all multicellular organisms studied to date. A microbiota includes bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses. The synonymous term microbiome describes either the collective genomes of the microorganisms that reside in an environmental niche or the microorganisms themselves.