Evolutionary tree of mouse gut bacteria, with larger circles indicating greater abundance of bacteria.

Humans play host to trillions of microorganisms that help our bodies perform basic functions, like digestion, growth, and fighting disease. In fact, bacterial cells outnumber the human cells in our bodies by 10 to 1.1

The tens of trillions of microorganisms thriving in our intestines are known as gut microbiota, and those that are not harmful to us are referred to as commensal microbiota. In a recent paper in Science, NCI scientists described their discovery that, in mice, the presence of commensal microbiota is needed for successful response to cancer therapy.