Dysbiosis: from fiction to function

Connor R. Tiffany, Andreas J. Bäumler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Advances in data collection technologies reveal that an imbalance (dysbiosis) in the composition of host-associated microbial communities (microbiota) is linked to many human illnesses. This association makes dysbiosis a central concept for understanding how the human microbiota contributes to health and disease. However, it remains problematic to define the term dysbiosis by cataloguing microbial species names. Here, we discuss how incorporating the germ-organ concept, ecological assumptions, and immunological principles into a theoretical framework for microbiota research provides a functional definition for dysbiosis. The generation of such a framework suggests that the next logical step in microbiota research will be to illuminate the mechanistic underpinnings of dysbiosis, which often involves a weakening of immune mechanisms that balance our microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G602-G608
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • dysbiosis
  • homeostasis
  • microbiome
  • microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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