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Archaea
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 967271, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/967271
Review Article

The Discussion Goes on: What Is the Role of Euryarchaeota in Humans?

Division of Oral Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Operative and Preventive Dentistry & Periodontology, and Department of Medical Microbiology, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, 52057 Aachen, Germany

Received 12 August 2010; Accepted 11 November 2010

Academic Editor: Reinhard Hensel

Copyright © 2010 H.-P. Horz and G. Conrads. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The human body (primarily the intestinal tract, the oral cavity, and the skin) harbours approximately 1,000 different bacterial species. However, the number of archaeal species known to colonize man seems to be confined to a handful of organisms within the class Euryarchaeota (including Methanobrevibacter smithii, M. oralis, and Methanosphaera stadtmanae). In contrast to this conspicuously low diversity of Archaea in humans their unique physiology in conjunction with the growing number of reports regarding their occurrence at sites of infection has made this issue an emerging field of study. While previous review articles in recent years have addressed the putative role of particularly methanogenic archaea for human health and disease, this paper compiles novel experimental data that have been reported since then. The aim of this paper is to inspire the scientific community of “Archaea experts” for those unique archaeal organisms that have successfully participated in the human-microbe coevolution.