Shkoporov AN, Hill C. Bacteriophages of the human gut: the “known unknown” of the microbiome. Cell Host Microbe. 2019; 25(2):195-209. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2019.01.017.
The human gut microbiome is a dense and taxonomically diverse consortium of microorganisms. While the bacterial components of the microbiome have received considerable attention, comparatively little is known about the composition and physiological significance of human gut-associated bacteriophage populations (phageome).
By extrapolating our knowledge of phage-host interactions from other environments, one could expect that >1012 viruses reside in the human gut, and we can predict that they play important roles in regulating the complex microbial networks operating in this habitat. Before delving into their function, we need to first overcome the challenges associated with studying and characterizing the phageome.
In this Review, the authors summarize the available methods and main findings regarding taxonomic composition, community structure, and population dynamics in the human gut phageome. We also discuss the main challenges in the field and identify promising avenues for future research.