Since the early days of the intestinal microbiota research, mouse models have been used frequently to study the interaction of microbes with their host. However, to translate the knowledge gained from mouse studies to a human situation, the major spatio-temporal similarities and differences between intestinal microbiota in mice and humans need to be considered. This is done here with specific attention for the comparative physiology of the intestinal tract, the effect of dietary patterns and differences in genetics. Detailed phylogenetic and metagenomic analysis showed that while many common genera are found in the human and murine intestine, these differ strongly in abundance and in total only 4% of the bacterial genes are found to share considerable identity. Moreover, a large variety of murine strains is available yet most of the microbiota research is performed in wild-type, inbred strains and their transgenic derivatives. It has become increasingly clear that the providers, rearing facilities and the genetic background of these mice have a significant impact on the microbial composition and this is illustrated with recent experimental data. This may affect the reproducibility of mouse microbiota studies and their conclusions. Hence, future studies should take these into account to truly show the effect of diet, genotype or environmental factors on the microbial composition.
- Murine models