Gut Microbiota and Human Health: Insights From Ecological Restoration
Dysbiosis of the gut facilitates chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity, and autoimmune disorders. Successful treatment may require restoration of functions performed by symbiotic microbes. The field of ecological restoration has restored species diversity and ecosystem function of natural habitats since the latter part of the 20th century, but its possible applications to medicine are unexplored. Here we show that approaches developed to restore natural ecosystems may aid in the treatment of chronic disease by helping to characterize target conditions for healthy microbe communities, by identifying the importance of donor diversity in fecal microbiota transplants, and by elevating the importance of diet, patient involvement, and personalized medicine in gut health. Dialogue between the fields of restoration ecology and medicine may help to guide future directions in gut research and clinical care.