The human intestinal microbiota plays a fundamental role in host health and is associated with many diseases when the homeostasis is disturbed. Although recent achievements in metagenomic sequencing have begun to reveal the variety of microbial composition associated with healthy and disease states, species-specific interactions and systematic dynamics still pose a great challenge to resolve the complexity of human microbiota. Using Clostridium difficile infection in human intestinal microbiota as an example, we apply evolutionary game theory to gain a fundamental understanding of the phenotypic variability and dynamic progression of microbiota. Here, microbiota dynamics are determined by the frequency-dependent fitness of each phenotypic population in the presence of the others. More specifically, the fitness is a function of phenotypic composition of the microbiota. We show how the phenotypic variability of microbiota can be explained by game theoretical approach. Knowledge of this study provides a new perspective in administrating antibiotic when dealing with pathogenic invasion. Instead of solely targeting to pathogens, therapies should aim at the whole ecosystem by reducing the fitness of pathogens compared to that of commensal microbes. In this case, the system will eradicate the pathogens by itself.
evolutionary game theory microbiota commensal bacteria pathogenic bacteria