Did you know that you are never alone in your own body? Like with all animals, your body provides a home for a community of microbes, making it a microbiome. Microbiomes impact their host’s ability to survive, age, and produce offspring. An important question is how each bacterial species affects our health. But with hundreds of species in our gut, it is difficult to single out any one in particular. Any species could have a direct effect on us, or the effects could be due to interactions between species. How do we unravel this complexity?
To explore how microbes impact their host, we looked at the Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly. It has only five bacterial species in its gut making it much simpler to study than a human. We examined a fly without bacteria and with every possible combination of the five bacterial species. We found that the species present in the gut and the interactions between them both affect the fly. This finding suggests that humans might also be impacted by the complex microbe interactions in their gut.