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High-throughput diversity and functionality analysis of the gastrointestinal tract microbiota
  1. E G Zoetendal1,2,
  2. M Rajilić-Stojanović1,
  3. W M de Vos1,2,3
  1. 1Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  2. 2TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Basic Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Dr E G Zoetendal, Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 10, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands; erwin.zoetendal{at}


The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract microbiota plays a pivotal role in our health. For more than a decade a major input for describing the diversity of the GI tract microbiota has been derived from the application of small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA)-based technologies. These not only provided a phylogenetic framework of the GI tract microbiota, the majority of which has not yet been cultured, but also advanced insights into the impact of host and environmental factors on the microbiota community structure and dynamics. In addition, it emerged that GI tract microbial communities are host and GI tract location-specific. This complicates establishing relevant links between the host’s health and the presence or abundance of specific microbial populations and argues for the implementation of novel high-throughput technologies in studying the diversity and functionality of the GI tract microbiota. Here, we focus on the recent developments and applications of phylogenetic microarrays based on SSU rRNA sequences and metagenomics approaches exploiting rapid sequencing technologies in unravelling the secrets of our GI tract microbiota.

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  • Competing interests: None.