Enterotypes in the landscape of gut microbial community composition

Costea PI, Hildebrand F, Arumugam M, Backhed F, Blaser MJ, Bushman FD, de Vos WM, Ehrlich SD, Fraser CM, Hattori M, Huttenhower C, Jeffery IB, Knights D, Lewis JD, Ley RE, Ochman H, O'Toole PW, Quince C, Relman DA, Shanahan F, Sunagawa S, Wang J, Weinstock GM, Wu GD, Zeller G, Zhao L, Raes J, Knight R, Bork P, Nat Microbiol 3 (1) :8-16 (2018).


Population stratification is a useful approach for a better understanding of complex biological problems in human health and wellbeing. The proposal that such stratification applies to the human gut microbiome, in the form of distinct community composition types termed enterotypes, has been met with both excitement and controversy. In view of accumulated data and re-analyses since the original work, we revisit the concept of enterotypes, discuss different methods of dividing up the landscape of possible microbiome configurations, and put these concepts into functional, ecological and medical contexts. As enterotypes are of use in describing the gut microbial community landscape and may become relevant in clinical practice, we aim to reconcile differing views and encourage a balanced application of the concept.