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Escherichia coli, one of the many species of bacteria present in the human gut

Gut flora or, more appropriately, gut microbiota, consists of a complex community of microorganism species that live in the digestive tracts of animals and is the largest reservoir of microorganisms mutual to humans. In this context gut is synonymous with intestinal, and flora with microbiota and microflora. The gut microbiome refer to the genomes of the gut microbiota.

Gut microorganisms benefit the host by gleaning the energy from the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates and the subsequent absorption of short-chain fatty acids. The most important of these fatty acids are butyrates, metabolised by the colonic epithelium; propionates by the liver; and acetates by the muscle tissue. Intestinal bacteria also play a role in synthesizing vitamin B and vitamin K as well as metabolizing bile acids, sterols and xenobiotics.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>

The human body carries about 100 trillion microorganisms in its intestines, a number ten times greater than the total number of human cells in the body.<ref name="Björkstén">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="Guarner and Malagelada 2003b">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name=Sears>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name=Steinhoff>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> The metabolic activities performed by these bacteria resemble those of an organ, leading some to liken gut bacteria to a "forgotten" organ. It is estimated that these gut flora have around a hundred times as many genes in aggregate as there are in the human genome.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>


Gut flora sections
Intro  Description  Types  Age  Gut flora and diet  Geography  Acquisition of gut flora in human infants  Functions  Alterations in flora balance  Role in disease  See also  Sources and notes  Further reading  External links  

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