Molecular microbial ecology of the gastrointestinal tract: From phylogeny to function

Erwin G. Zoetendal, Biao Cheng, Satoshi Koike, Roderick I. Mackie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


During the past decade it became evident that anaerobic cultivation-based approaches provides an incomplete picture of the microbial diversity in the GI tract, since at present only a minority of microbes can be obtained in culture. The application of molecular, mainly 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA)-based approaches enables researchers to bypass the cultivation step and has proven its usefulness in studying the microbial composition in a variety of ecosystems, including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This critical review summarizes the impact of these culture-independent approaches on our knowledge of the ecology of the GI tract and provides directions for future studies which should emphasize function of specific strains, species and groups of microbes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Issues in Intestinal Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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