From taxonomy to metabolic output: what factors define gut microbiome health?

April 23, 2022

Many studies link the composition of the human gut microbiome to aberrant health states. However, our understanding of what constitutes a ‘healthy’ gut ecosystem, and how to effectively monitor and maintain it, are only now emerging. Here, we review current approaches to defining and monitoring gut microbiome health, and outline directions for developing targeted ecological therapeutics. We emphasize the importance of identifying which ecological features of the gut microbiome are most resonant with host molecular phenotypes, and highlight certain gut microbial metabolites as potential biomarkers of gut microbiome health. We further discuss how multi-omic measurements of host phenotypes, dietary information, and gut microbiome profiles can be integrated into increasingly sophisticated host-microbiome mechanistic models that can be leveraged to design personalized interventions. Overall, we summarize current progress on defining microbiome health and highlight a number of paths forward for engineering the ecology of the gut to promote wellness.