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Chapter 4.1 : Introduction
Anaerobic bacteria are a significant component of the normal microbiota of the human host. There are anaerobes present on most body surfaces and mucous membranes; they exist in large numbers throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the colon, with the exception of the stomach and esophagus; they are found in large numbers in the female genitourinary tract. In most areas, a true symbiotic relationship exists: humans supply the environment for the anaerobes to live and multiply in the presence of food, water, and a “friendly” atmosphere; the bacteria aid in digestion of foodstuffs for metabolism, prevent attachment of more virulent microbes by virtue of their presence in very large numbers, and make up a major component of the innate immunity of the host. In addition, the normal anaerobic microbiota bacteria are important in supplying needed vitamins and cofactors like vitamin K that humans cannot manufacture on their own ( 6 ).