Every individual’s microbiome is unique and dependent on factors such as genetics and diet. Changes in the relative amounts of each species can alter host health and contribute to various diseases. In a recent Nature Communications publication, scientists show that many bacterial species can shift between stable low- or high-abundance states while intermediate states are unstable and rare. For translational science, this provides the possibility that certain diseases are defined by specific combinations of low/high levels of specific species of bacteria. Understanding these patterns could allow treatments to complicated diseases through intervention at the microbiome level.