While the term microflora is common, it is technically a misnomer since flora pertains to the kingdom Plantae. Some textbooks now use the term microbiota. Microorganisms with animal-like characteristics are classed as microfauna.
The bacterial flora is a community of bacteria that exists on or in the body, and possesses a unique ecological relationship with the host. Bacterial flora encompasses a wide variety of microorganisms, and the interactions between microbes and host creates a mutualistic relationship that both entities benefit from. Humans, for example, provide a diversified ecosystem for a large variety of microbes. An average human adds 37 million bacteria to the air an hour in a given space. The mutualistic relationship has a significant impact on the host, and is thought to influence human traits such as obesity. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health started the Human Microbiome Project designed to help understand the health implications of human bacterial flora. Biologists believe that bacterial flora may play some role in disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Additionally, the study of flora can have industrial benefits such as dietary supplements like probiotics. The living microorganisms in probiotics are believed to have positive effects on health, and have been utilized in studies regarding gastrointestinal diseases and allergies.
- Willey, Joanne; Sherwood, Linda; Woolverton, Christopher (2011). Prescott's Microbiology (8th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill. pp. 731–737. ISBN 9780077350130. LCCN 2009033823. OCLC 434613235.
- Todar, Kenneth (2012). "The Normal Bacterial Flora of Humans". Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology. Madison, WI: Kenneth Todar. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- Rust, Susanne (4 February 2012). "UC Berkeley Bacteria Study: Research Shows Humans A Major Source Of Germs". Huffington Post. San Francisco. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- "Of Bugs and Brains: Gut Bacteria Affect Multiple Sclerosis". Science Daily. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- "What Else May Probiotics Do in Adults?". Science Daily. 20 May 2008. Retrieved 2012-04-15.