The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, plays a crucial role in our overall well being, says a new research.
"Scientists are experiencing startling insights into the role that microorganisms play, not only in disease, but more importantly in our health and well-being," said Lita Proctor of the National Human Genome Research Institute in the US.
Scientists now recognise that the microbiome may be responsible for a broad variety of metabolic and developmental processes from food digestion to vitamin synthesis, and even brain function.
The report, produced by the American Academy of Microbiology, also highlighted the role of the microbiome in obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.
The report describes the beauty and complexity of the human microbiome and the insults we may be causing our microbiomes as a result of common practices in our modern societies.
"We now need to include the microbiome when considering human health and the future research directions for this emerging field which combines medicine, ecology and evolution," added Proctor.
Researchers have long known that bacteria reside on and within the human body, but traditional microbiology has typically focused on the study of individual species as isolated units.
Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies and other molecular techniques have allowed for more comprehensive examination of these microbes as communities that have evolved intimate relationships with their hosts over millions of years, the report said.