A new normal for the microbiota

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Science  05 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6239, pp. 1103-1104
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6239.1103-e

Many surfaces of the human body, including the genital tract, harbor bacteria collectively referred to as the microbiota. Previous studies suggested that a healthy vaginal microbiota is lactobacillus-dominant and has low bacterial diversity. Anahtar et al. now challenge this. Studying young healthy women in South Africa, they identified four clusters of vaginal microbiomes. Only 37% of the women fell into lactobacillus-dominant clusters. The rest had more diverse microbiomes dominated by other genera. One diverse cluster associated strongly with genital inflammation. Because genital inflammation can place women at higher risk for acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV, these results suggest that the vaginal microbiome may influence rates of STI acquisition.

Immunity 42, 965 (2015).

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