Immediately after birth, human infants begin to develop a complex, interwoven fabric of microbes in their gut. Known collectively as the gut microbiome, this diverse ecosystem consists of bacteria, archaea, viruses and fungi, numbering in the billions. All have important roles to play in health and disease and researchers are racing to better understand their enigmatic activities.
In a new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology, Efrem Lim and his colleagues explore the galaxy of viruses present in the gut, known as the gut virome. They find that some preterm infants undergo marked alterations in their pattern of gut viruses shortly before developing a serious and often fatal disease known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).