A genome-wide association study for gut metagenome in Chinese adults illuminates complex diseases

Xiaomin Liu, Shanmei Tang, Huanzi Zhong, Xin Tong, Zhuye Jie, Qiuxia Ding, Dan Wang, Ruidong Guo, Liang Xiao, Xun Xu, Huanming Yang, Jian Wang, Yang Zong, Weibin Liu, Xiao Liu, Yong Zhang, Susanne Brix, Karsten Kristiansen, Yong Hou*, Huijue Jia*Tao Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The gut microbiome has been established as a key environmental factor to health. Genetic influences on the gut microbiome have been reported, yet, doubts remain as to the significance of genetic associations. Here, we provide shotgun data for whole genome and whole metagenome from a Chinese cohort, identifying no <20% genetic contribution to the gut microbiota. Using common variants-, rare variants-, and copy number variations-based association analyses, we identified abundant signals associated with the gut microbiome especially in metabolic, neurological, and immunological functions. The controversial concept of enterotypes may have a genetic attribute, with the top two loci explaining 11% of the Prevotella–Bacteroides variances. Stratification according to gender led to the identification of differential associations in males and females. Our two-stage metagenome genome-wide association studies on a total of 1295 individuals unequivocally illustrates that neither microbiome nor GWAS studies could overlook one another in our quest for a better understanding of human health and diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalCell Discovery
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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