Symbiotic microorganisms inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract promote health by decreasing susceptibility to infection and enhancing resistance to a range of diseases.

In this Review, we discuss our increasing understanding of the impact of the microbiome on the mammalian host and recent efforts to culture and characterize intestinal symbiotic microorganisms that produce or modify metabolites that impact disease pathology.

Manipulation of the intestinal microbiome has great potential to reduce the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of human conditions and diseases, and the biomedical research community now faces the challenge of translating our understanding of the microbiome into beneficial medical therapies.

Our increasing understanding of symbiotic microbial species and the application of ecological principles and machine learning are providing exciting opportunities for microbiome-based therapeutics to progress from faecal microbiota transplantation to the administration of precisely defined and clinically validated symbiotic microbial consortia that optimize disease resistance.

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