Shotgun metagenomics of 250 adult twins reveals genetic and environmental impacts on the gut microbiome

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Hailiang Xie
  • Ruijin Guo
  • Huanzi Zhong
  • Qiang Feng
  • Zhou Lan
  • Bingcai Qin
  • Kirsten J. Ward
  • Matthew A. Jackson
  • Yan Xia
  • Xu Chen
  • Bing Chen
  • Huihua Xia
  • Changlu Xu
  • Fei Li
  • Xun Xu
  • Jumana Yousuf Al-Aama
  • Huanming Yang
  • Jian Wang
  • Jun Wang
  • Claire J. Steves
  • Jordana T. Bell
  • Junhua Li
  • Timothy D. Spector
  • Huijue Jia

The gut microbiota has been typically viewed as an environmental factor for human health. Twins are well suited for investigating the concordance of their gut microbiomes and decomposing genetic and environmental influences. However, existing twin studies utilizing metagenomic shotgun sequencing have included only a few samples. Here, we sequenced fecal samples from 250 adult twins in the TwinsUK registry and constructed a comprehensive gut microbial reference gene catalog. We demonstrate heritability of many microbial taxa and functional modules in the gut microbiome, including those associated with diseases. Moreover, we identified 8 million SNPs in the gut microbiome and observe a high similarity in microbiome SNPs between twins that slowly decreases after decades of living apart. The results shed new light on the genetic and environmental influences on the composition and function of the gut microbiome that could relate to risk of complex diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Systems
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)572-584.e3
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • heritability, metabolic diseases, microbiome, SNPs

ID: 171653678