You may have read yesterday about new research (subscription required) suggesting there are three distinct types of microscopic ecosystems that exist in the human intestine. In a Health Day article posted today, Stanford microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, who was not involved in the study, comments on the findings and what they mean for researchers working to understand how these bacterial communities may influence our health:
"There's been this increasing realization over the past several years that the microbes that live in and upon us are wired into many facets of our biology, and it's also becoming clear that these microbes are going to be a major determinant of variation between individuals, both in relationship to our health, predisposition to disease, progression of diseases and how they should be treated therapeutically," he said.
But by identifying the three types, the new research represents a significant breakthrough, he added.
"This paper really makes a huge leap in establishing that this variation is not a continual and infinite, but that there these finite enterotypes," Sonnenburg said.
Think of it like eye color, Sonnenburg added. There's brown, green, blue, hazel and a perhaps a few other variations, but there is no purple, chartreuse or other colors.