Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: 834–840
Archaea present distinct features from bacteria and eukaryotes, and thus constitute one of the branches of the phylogenetic tree of life. Members of this domain colonize distinct niches in the human body, arranged in complex communities, especially in the intestines and the oral cavity. The diversity of archaea within these niches is limited to a few phylotypes, constituted in particular by methane-producing archaeal organisms. Although they are possibly symbionts, methanogens may play a role in the establishment of mucosal diseases by favouring the growth of certain bacterial groups.