The core gut microbiome, energy balance and obesity


  • This review was presented at The Journal of Physiology Symposium on The world within – impact of the intestinal microbiota on whole body physiology and pathophysiology, which took place at Experimental Biology 2009 at New Orleans, LA, USA on 20 April 2009. It was commissioned by the Editorial Board and reflects the views of the authors.

Corresponding author J. I. Gordon: Washington University School of Medicine, 4444 Forest Park, Campus Box 8510, St Louis, MO 63108, USA.  Email:


Metagenomics is an emerging field focused on characterizing the structures, functions and dynamic operations of microbial communities sampled in their native habitats without the need for culture. Here, we present findings from a 16S rRNA gene sequence- and whole community DNA shotgun sequencing-based analysis of the adult human gut microbiomes of lean and obese mono- and dizygotic twins. Our findings indicate that a core microbiome can be found at the gene level, despite large variation in community membership, and that variations from the core are associated with obesity. These findings have implications for ongoing Human Microbiome Project(s), and highlight important challenges to the field of metagenomics.