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Microbial communities in the human gut are formed at birth and shaped over time by a person’s diet, and other aspects of lifestyle and environment. Now scientists have confirmed that human genetic sequence polymorphisms also play a key role in shaping the gut microbiota.
Genetic variants influence food choices, immunity, and gut physiology, so it’s conceivable that they also have an impact on the microbiome. But previous research has been less than definitive. Most studies have relied on animal model experiments or small datasets from twin pairs. While some found signs of heritability, others did not. Because many factors can have large influences on the microbiome, it’s difficult to attribute variations to host genetics rather than other influences.
Senior author Ruth Ley, a Cornell University microbiologist, and her colleagues first studied twin pairs from the TwinsUK database in 2014. Their analysis suggested that monozygotic twins did have more similar gut microbiota than dizygotic twins. Extending their analyses in the new study, published in Cell Host & Microbe, the researchers confirmed that finding.
Read full, original post: Journal Club: Human genetics contributes to gut microbiome composition