The gut microbiome is comprised of various types of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses naturally occurring in humans and animals as normal microflora. Gut microorganisms are typically host specific, and their number and type vary according to different host species and environment. Gut microbes contribute directly and/or indirectly to various physiological processes including immune modulation, regulation of various neurotransmitter, and hormones, as well as production of many antioxidants and metabolites. They also play a role as antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-carcinogenic agents. Moreover, the ability of gut microbes to attenuate various systemic diseases like coronary heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic diseases like diabetes mellitus, and infectious diseases like diarrhea has recently been reported. Current research findings have enough evidence to suggest that gut microbiome is a new organ system mainly due to the microorganisms’ specific biochemical interaction with their hosts and their systemic integration into the host biology. Investigations into the potential ability of gut microbiome to influence metabolism inside their host via biochemical interaction with antibiotics and other drugs has recently been initiated. This chapter specifically focuses on the importance of gut microorganisms as a new organ system.
Part of the book: Parasitology and Microbiology Research