Libraries of tens of thousands of transposon mutants generated from each of four human gut Bacteroides strains, two representing the same species, were introduced simultaneously into gnotobiotic mice together with 11 other wild-type strains to generate a 15-member artificial human gut microbiota. Mice received one of two distinct diets monotonously, or both in different ordered sequences. Quantifying the abundance of mutants in different diet contexts allowed gene-level characterization of fitness determinants, niche, stability, and resilience and yielded a prebiotic (arabinoxylan) that allowed targeted manipulation of the community. The approach described is generalizable and should be useful for defining mechanisms critical for sustaining and/or approaches for deliberately reconfiguring the highly adaptive and durable relationship between the human gut microbiota and host in ways that promote wellness. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.