A molecular view of the intestinal ecosystem

E.E. Vaughan, F. Schut, G.H.J. Heilig, E.G. Zoetendal, W.M. de Vos, A.D.L. Akkermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

193 Citations (Scopus)


This review describes the state of the art as well as the initial results of molecular methodologies used to study the ecology of the complex microflora of the human intestinal tract. The detection and identification of many of these organisms has largely been hampered by the incomplete knowledge of their culture conditions. Many of the molecular methodologies are rooted in the use of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and its encoding genes to describe the relationship between the bacteria in such communities and their individual identity. This approach permits the elucidation both qualitatively as well as quantitatively of the abundance of bacterial species and how their presence interacts with diet and health. Emphasis is given to the analysis of complex communities rather than detection of individual groups of bacteria. The potential of novel advances in molecular technologies such as DNA arrays for analysis of the intestinal ecosystem are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalCurrent Issues in Intestinal Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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