Characterization of the gastrointestinal microbiota in health and inflammatory bowel disease



The enteric bacterial flora play a key role in maintaining health. Inflammatory bowel disease is associated with quantitative and qualitative alterations in the microbiota. Early characterization of the microbiota involved culture-dependent techniques. The advent of metagenomic techniques, however, allows for structural and functional characterization using culture-independent methods. Changes in diversity, together with quantitative alterations in specific bacterial species, have been identified. The functional significance of these changes, and their pathogenic role, remain to be elucidated. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2011;)