A variety of microorganisms inhabit the gastrointestinal tract of animals including bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Pioneers in gut microbiology have stressed the critical importance of diet:microbe interactions and how these interactions may contribute to health status. As scientists have overcome the limitations of culture-based microbiology, the importance of these interactions has become more clear even to the extent that the gut microbiota has emerged as an important immunologic and metabolic organ. Recent advances in metagenomics and metabolomics have helped scientists to demonstrate that interactions among the diet, the gut microbiota, and the host to have profound effects on animal health and disease. However, although scientists have now accumulated a great deal of data with respect to what organisms comprise the gastrointestinal landscape, there is a need to look more closely at causative effects of the microbiome. The objective of this review is intended to provide: 1) a review of what is currently known with respect to the dynamics of microbial colonization of the porcine gastrointestinal tract; 2) a review of the impact of nutrient:microbe effects on growth and health; 3) examples of the therapeutic potential of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics; and 4) a discussion about what the future holds with respect to microbiome research opportunities and challenges. Taken together, by considering what is currently known in the four aforementioned areas, our overarching goal is to set the stage for narrowing the path towards discovering how the porcine gut microbiota (individually and collectively) may affect specific host phenotypes.
- Nutrient–microbiome interactions
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology