Annual Review of Animal Biosciences Vol. 9:289-311
Host-associated microbiomes contribute in many ways to the homeostasis of the metaorganism. The microbiome's contributions range from helping to provide nutrition and aiding growth, development, and behavior to protecting against pathogens and toxic compounds. Here we summarize the current knowledge of the diversity and importance of the microbiome to animals, using representative examples of wild and domesticated species. We demonstrate how the beneficial ecological roles of animal-associated microbiomes can be generally grouped into well-defined main categories and how microbe-based alternative treatments can be applied to mitigate problems for both economic and conservation purposes and to provide crucial knowledge about host–microbiota symbiotic interactions. We suggest a Customized Combination of Microbial-Based Therapies to promote animal health and contribute to the practice of sustainable husbandry. We also discuss the ecological connections and threats associated with animal biodiversity loss, microorganism extinction, and emerging diseases, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.