Exploring relationships between host genome and microbiome: New insights from genome-wide association studies

Muslihudeen A. Abdul-Aziz, Alan Cooper, Laura S. Weyrich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


As our understanding of the human microbiome expands, impacts on health and disease continue to be revealed. Alterations in the microbiome can result in dysbiosis, which has now been linked to subsequent autoimmune and metabolic diseases, highlighting the need to identify factors that shape the microbiome. Research has identified that the composition and functions of the human microbiome can be influenced by diet, age, sex, and environment. More recently, studies have explored how human genetic variation may also influence the microbiome. Here, we review several recent analytical advances in this new research area, including those that use genome-wide association studies to examine host genome-microbiome interactions, while controlling for the influence of other factors. We find that current research is limited by small sample sizes, lack of cohort replication, and insufficient confirmatory mechanistic studies. In addition, we discuss the importance of understanding long-term interactions between the host genome and microbiome, as well as the potential impacts of disrupting this relationship, and explore new research avenues that may provide information about the co-evolutionary history of humans and their microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1611
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - Oct 12 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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