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The human microbiome

The trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies could light paths to better health.

Image credit: Vasava

Image credit: Vasava

We are not alone in our bodies. Each person is home to trillions of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, many of which have evolved alongside humans over millions of years and can affect our health for better or worse.

Scientists are now rapidly improving their understanding of the role that this microbiota has in health and disease — work that could yield treatments for disease, and fresh routes to better health.

This collection will be updated throughout 2024, with reporting from journalists and research from across the Nature Portfolio journals.

Check back throughout the year, or sign up to Nature Briefing: Microbiology to receive free email updates on this collection and other research into the role of microorganisms in health and the environment.


Original journalism from Nature.

An illustration showing two explorers in a cave that is shaped like the lungs. They are surrounded by fireflies.


Exploring the lung microbiome's role in disease

Unusual microbial communities in the lower airways could influence lung cancer and other conditions, and might point the way to therapies. By Anthony King

17 April 2024

A monochrome illustration showing a person’s shadow on a bar, when the shadow overlap a beer bottle where the person gut is it turns colourful.

Could the gut give rise to alcohol addiction?

Microorganisms in the gut might make a person more vulnerable to substance-use disorders. By Tammy Worth

7 March 2024

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Research and reviews

Curated from the Nature Portfolio journals.

Nature is pleased to acknowledge financial support from Yakult in producing this Outlook. Nature retains sole responsibility for all editorial content. About this content.

The supporting organization retains sole responsibility for the following message:

Yakult logo

For several decades, Yakult has maintained its commitment to improving human health by researching lactobacilli and through the development of its food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical businesses.

Yakult Central Institute has been conducting a wide range of studies in gut microbiota, probiotics, intestinal immunity and other areas of basic research. Above all, the Institute works to understand the relationship between human health and gut microbiota, focusing on basic research into the structures and functions of microbiota.

Yakult’s network extends through Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Europe and its products of probiotics are consumed in 40 countries and regions, including Japan.

The global grants for gut health.

The Global Grants for Gut Health is a competitive programme for investigator-initiated research into the human gut microbiota, supported by Yakult and Nature Portfolio.

In 2024, we invite applications for research proposals that explore beyond the bacterial microbiome. We are interested in projects that will elucidate mechanisms of interaction between the host, the microbial and the non-microbial microbiomes in the gut. The fund is open to eligible researchers from across the world. The programme provides three awards of US$100k for one-year research projects.

Apply now. The deadline is 9 September 2024.

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