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Gut flora (gut microbiota, or gastrointestinal microbiota) is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans.
Our gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes).
Microbiota can, in total, weigh up to 2 kg.
One third of our gut microbiota is common to most people, while two thirds are specific to each one of us.
In humans, the gut microbiota has the largest numbers of bacteria and the greatest number of species compared to other areas of the body.
In humans the gut flora is established at one to two years after birth, and by that time the intestinal epithelium and the intestinal mucosal barrier that it secretes have co-developed in a way that is tolerant to, and even supportive of, the gut flora and that also provides a barrier to pathogenic organisms.
The systemic importance of the SCFAs and other compounds they produce are like hormones and the gut flora itself appears to function like an endocrine organ and dysregulation of the gut flora has been correlated with a host of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.