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A few weeks ago (June 2012), a paper in Nature by a group of researchers suggested that despite the vast geographical and nutritional differences in the human population, that just three predominant bacterial clusters (referred to as enterotypes hereafter) could explain all of our gastric microbial mixes.[1] This they suggest indicates the existence of a limited number of well-balanced host–microbial symbiotic states that might respond differently to diet and drug intake.

Each of these three enterotypes are identifiable by the variation in the levels of one of three genera: Bacteroides (enterotype 1), Prevotella (enterotype 2) and Ruminococcus (enterotype 3). These enterotypes are not as sharply delimited as, for example, human blood groups; they are, in contrast, densely populated areas in a multidimensional space of community composition. They are nevertheless likely to characterise individuals, in line with previous reports that gut microbiota are quite stable in individuals and can even be restored after perturbation.[2]

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