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Role of the microbiome in human development
  1. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello1,
  2. Filipa Godoy-Vitorino2,
  3. Rob Knight3,
  4. Martin J Blaser4
  1. 1 Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2 Department of Microbiology and Medical Zoology, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA
  3. 3 Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego, California, USA
  4. 4 Department of Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA; mg.dominguez-bello{at}


The host-microbiome supraorganism appears to have coevolved and the unperturbed microbial component of the dyad renders host health sustainable. This coevolution has likely shaped evolving phenotypes in all life forms on this predominantly microbial planet. The microbiota seems to exert effects on the next generation from gestation, via maternal microbiota and immune responses. The microbiota ecosystems develop, restricted to their epithelial niches by the host immune system, concomitantly with the host chronological development, providing early modulation of physiological host development and functions for nutrition, immunity and resistance to pathogens at all ages. Here, we review the role of the microbiome in human development, including evolutionary considerations, and the maternal/fetal relationships, contributions to nutrition and growth. We also discuss what constitutes a healthy microbiota, how antimicrobial modern practices are impacting the human microbiota, the associations between microbiota perturbations, host responses and diseases rocketing in urban societies and potential for future restoration.

  • human microbiome
  • development
  • evolution
  • perturbations
  • restoration

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  • Contributors MGD-B coordinated efforts in the review and all authors wrote the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests MGD-B, MJB and RK are members of the Scientific Advisory Board of CommenSe. RK reports personal fees from Biota, CommenSe, Prometheus, Metagenics and Genentech, outside the submitted work. MJB reports advisory board positions for Dupont Nutrition, Procter & Gamble, Seed, Ubiome, outside the submitted work. This publication does not endorse any commercial products.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.