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Microbiota vs Microbiome

Do you know the difference between microbiota and microbiome?
In this image the difference between microbiota and microbiome is shown. Microbiota is the assemblage of the microorganisms present in a specific environment, while microbiome also includes their activities and functions.
© University of Turin

Often the terms microbiota and microbiome are used in an interchangeable way, however they have a complete different meaning.

Recently, as an outcome of the MicrobiomeSupport project a group of more 30 experts in the filed, redefined the two terms giving them straightforward definition.

Microbiota is the assemblage of microorganisms present in a defined environment. More specifically, the microbiota varies according to its surrounding environment. The term microbiota is preceded by the name of the environment in which it is located. For example, ‘gut microbiota’ refers to the microbiota in the intestinal tract.

Microbiome is referred to the collection of genes harbored by microorganisms, the so called Theater of activity. In other words the term microbiome describes the collection of genomes and genes from the members of a microbiota in a specific habitat.

The human microbiota is the collection of microorganisms that includes bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses. Their diversity differs depending on a variety of factors. The microbiome has many essential functions in the habitats it lives in and researchers are only now discovering what it does and why it is important.

© University of Turin
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The Human Microbiome

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