Advances in next generation sequencing (NGS) technology have provided the tools to comprehensively and accurately characterize the microbial community in the respiratory tract in health and disease. The presence of commensal and pathogenic bacteria has been found to have important effects on the lung immune system. Until relatively recently, the lung has received less attention compared to other body sites in terms of microbiome characterization, and its study carries special technological difficulties related to obtaining reliable samples as compared to other body niches. Additionally, the complexity of the alveolar immune system, and its interactions with the lung microbiome, are only just beginning to be understood. Amidst this complexity sits Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), one of humanity’s oldest nemeses and a significant public health concern, with millions of individuals infected with Mtb worldwide. The intricate interactions between Mtb, the lung microbiome, and the alveolar immune system are beginning to be understood, and it is increasingly apparent that improved treatment of Mtb will only come through deep understanding of the interplay between these three forces. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the lung microbiome, alveolar immunity, and the interaction of each with Mtb.
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