Article Text

Download PDFPDF
A molecular revolution in the study of intestinal microflora
  1. E Furrie
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr E Furrie
    Department of Immunology, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK; e.furrie{at}


Bacterial colonisers of the colon comprise several hundred bacterial species that live in a complex ecosystem. Study of this complex ecosystem has been carried out, until recently, by traditional culture techniques with biochemical methods to identify organisms. The development of molecular techniques to investigate ecological microbial communities has provided the microbiologist with a vast array of new techniques to investigate human intestinal microflora. Metagenomics, the science of biological diversity, combines the use of molecular biology and genetics to identify and characterise genetic material from complex microbial environments. The combination of metagenomics and subsequent quantitation of each identified species using molecular techniques allows the relatively rapid analysis of whole bacterial populations in human health and disease

  • IBD, inflammatory bowel disease
  • rDNA, ribosomal DNA
  • qPCR, quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction
  • Crohn’s disease
  • metagenome
  • faecal microbiota
  • phylogeny
  • Firmicutes

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

Linked Articles