Table 1

Characteristics of microbial niches present in humans and of their colonising biota

Macro niches contain multiple micro niches
Microbial colonisation begins early in life
Colonising organisms are numerous
Diverse organisms colonise each niche
The biota maintains an orderly and stable presence in the available niches
Within the microbial population, there is both competition and cooperation
The colonising organisms provide symbiotic functions