A microbial consortium or consortium, is two or more bacterial or microbial groups living symbiotically. Consortiums can be endosymbiotic or ectosymbiotic, or occasionally may be both. The protist Mixotricha paradoxa, itself an endosymbiont of the Mastotermes darwiniensis termite, is always found as a consortium of at least one endosymbiotic coccus, multiple ectosymbiotic species of flagellate or ciliate bacteria, and at least one species of helical Treponema bacteria that forms the basis of Mixotricha protists' locomotion.
Consortia are commonly found in humans, with the predominant examples being the skin consortium and the intestinal consortium which provide protection and aid in human nutrition. Additionally, bacteria have been identified as existing within the brain (previously believed to be sterile), with metagenomic evidence suggesting the species found may be enteric in origin. As the species found appear to be well-established, have no discernible impact on human health, and are species known to form consortia when found in the gut, it is highly likely they have also formed a symbiotic consortium within the brain.
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Consortia are assemblages of different species of microbes in physical (and sometimes intricate biochemical) contact with one another, and are implicated in biological processes ranging from sewage treatment to marine nitrogen cycling to metabolic processes within the rumen.
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