*Geek Box: Microbiome Terminology
Many terms of often used, sometimes interchangeable, when reading about this topic. So it can be helpful to define some terms.
- “Microbiome” is the term for the ‘extended genome’ provided by the bacteria in the human gut, i.e. what genes are expressed and functions they exert.
- “Microbiota” is the term for the different bacteria in the gut, i.e. what bacteria are present, and in what proportions.
- “Bacteria”: single-cell organisms that are highly adaptable.
- “Dysbiosis”: the term for disturbances in the composition of the microbiota, influencing disease states
Related to the term microbiota, the term “microbial”, i.e., ‘microbial diversity’, refers to bacterial populations. And sometimes this is just plainly stated as “gut bacteria”!
In general, the most important distinction to bear in mind is between microbiome [i.e., the functions of the genome in the gut] and microbiota [i.e., the composition of bacteria in the gut].