Previous studies have shown both genetics and the gut microbiome influence a host’s metabolic phenotype. By analyzing the fecal samples of twins, researchers found that the abundance of many microbial taxa in the gut were influenced by genetics. The family Christensenellaceae was the most heritable, and co-occurred with a group of other microorganisms. This heritable group was associated with a lean body weight.
Researchers then wanted to know if Christensenellaceae played a causal role in determining weight; they took a microbiome associated with obesity and added Christensenella minuta. When they transplanted this community into germ-free mice, they observed a reduction in weight gain.
This study provides evidence that host genes indeed help shape the composition of the gut microbiome, and that this genetically-shaped microbiome can influence host metabolism.
Goodrich JK, et al. (2014) Human Genetics Shape the Gut Microbiome. Cell DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2014.09.053