Population stratification is a useful approach for a better understanding of complex biological problems in human health and wellbeing. The proposal that such stratification applies to the human gut microbiome, in the form of distinct community composition types termed enterotypes, has been met with both excitement and controversy. In view of accumulated data and re-analyses since the original work, we revisit the concept of enterotypes, discuss different methods of dividing up the landscape of possible microbiome configurations, and put these concepts into functional, ecological and medical contexts. As enterotypes are of use in describing the gut microbial community landscape and may become relevant in clinical practice, we aim to reconcile differing views and encourage a balanced application of the concept.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors are grateful to the members of the Bork group at EMBL for discussions and assistance. The research leading to these results has received funding from EMBL, the VIB, the Rega institute for Medical Research, the European Research Council via the CancerBiome project (project reference 268985), MicrobesInside (250172) and the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme via the MetaHIT (HEALTH-F4-2007-201052), the METACARDIS project (FP7-HEALTH-2012-INNOVATION-I-305312), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant 600375), Metagenopolis grant ANR-11-DPBS-0001 and the IHMS project (FP7-HEALTH-2010-single-stage-261376).