A plethora of conditions, from obesity to anxiety, appear to be linked to the microbes inside us. Nicola Davis explains why the microbiome is such a hot topic of research
What are microbiomes?
Both inside and out, our bodies harbour a huge array of micro-organisms. While bacteria are the biggest players, we also host single-celled organisms known as archaea, as well as fungi, viruses and other microbes – including viruses that attack bacteria. Together these are dubbed the human microbiota. Your body’s microbiome is all the genes your microbiota contains, however colloquially the two terms are often used interchangeably.