The longitudinal and cross-sectional heterogeneity of the intestinal microbiota

Brittany M. Miller, Megan J. Liou, Jee Yon Lee, Andreas J. Bäumler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A central goal of microbiome research is to understand the factors that balance gut-associated microbial communities, thereby creating longitudinal and cross-sectional heterogeneity in their composition and density. Whereas the diet dictates taxa dominance, microbial communities are linked intimately to host physiology through digestive and absorptive functions that generate longitudinal heterogeneity in nutrient availability. Additionally, the host differentially controls the access to electron acceptors along the longitudinal axis of the intestine to drive the development of microbial communities that are dominated by facultatively anaerobic bacteria in the small intestine or obligately anaerobic bacteria in the large intestine. By secreting mucus and antimicrobials, the host further constructs microhabitats that generate cross-sectional heterogeneity in the colonic microbiota composition. Here we will review how understanding the host factors involved in generating longitudinal and cross-sectional microbiota heterogeneity helps define physiological states that are characteristic of or appropriate to a homeostatic microbiome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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