Human genetics shape the gut microbiome

Julia K. Goodrich, Jillian L. Waters, Angela C. Poole, Jessica L. Sutter, Omry Koren, Ran Blekhman, Michelle Beaumont, William Van Treuren, Rob Knight, Jordana T. Bell, Timothy D. Spector, Andrew G. Clark, Ruth E. Ley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2163 Scopus citations


Host genetics and the gut microbiome can both influence metabolic phenotypes. However, whether host genetic variationshapes thegut microbiome and interacts with it to affect host phenotype is unclear. Here, we compared microbiotas across >1,000 fecal samples obtained from the TwinsUK population, including 416 twin pairs. We identified many microbial taxa whose abundances were influenced by host genetics. The most heritable taxon, the family Christensenellaceae, formed a co-occurrence network with other heritable Bacteria and with methanogenic Archaea. Furthermore, Christensenellaceae and its partners were enriched in individuals with low body mass index (BMI). An obese-associated microbiome was amended with Christensenella minuta, a cultured member of the Christensenellaceae, and transplanted to germ-free mice. C. minuta amendment reduced weight gain and altered the microbiome of recipient mice. Our findings indicate that host genetics influence the composition of the human gut microbiome and can do so in ways that impact host metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-799
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 6 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2014 Elsevier Inc.


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