Bacterial metabolism has been studied intensively since the first observations of these 'animalcules' by Leeuwenhoek and their isolation in pure cultures by Pasteur. Metabolic studies have traditionally focused on a small number of model organisms, primarily the Gram negative bacillus Escherichia coli, adapted to artificial culture conditions in the laboratory. Comparatively little is known about the physiology and metabolism of wild microorganisms living in their natural habitats. For approximately 500-1000 species of commensals and symbionts, and a smaller number of pathogenic bacteria, that habitat is the human body. Emerging evidence suggests that the metabolism of bacteria grown in vivo differs profoundly from their metabolism in axenic cultures.