Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) represents a family of diseases including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD has garnered significant attention in recent years due to successes in 2 areas of basic science: complex human genetics and host-microbe interactions. Advances in understanding the genetics of IBD, mainly driven by genome-wide association studies, have identified more than 160 genetic loci that modulate the risk of disease. Notably, several of these genes have pointed to alterations in host-microbe interactions as being critical factors in pathogenesis. Investigations into the microbial communities of the gastrointestinal tract (or the ‘gut microbiome') in IBD have yielded important insights into several aspects of interactions between microbiota and the host immune system, including how alterations to microbial community composition and function have important consequences for immune homeostasis. Key Messages: The anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract plays a role in defining not only intestinal function, but also the microbial ecosystem that lives within the gut. Careful investigations into the composition and function of these microbial communities have suggested that patients with IBD have an imbalance in their gut microbiota, termed dysbiosis. These studies, as well as studies using samples from healthy individuals, have begun to uncover mechanisms of crosstalk between particular microbes (and microbial products) and immunomodulatory pathways, alterations which may drive immune diseases such as IBD. Conclusions: Investigations into the role of the microbiome in IBD have provided important clues to potential pathogenic mechanisms. Harnessing this knowledge to develop therapeutics and identify biomarkers is currently a major translational goal, holding great promise for clinically meaningful progress.

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