Host Genetic Determinants of the Microbiome Across Animals: From Caenorhabditis elegans to Cattle

Erica P. Ryu, Emily R. Davenport

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Animals harbor diverse communities of microbes within their gastrointestinal tracts. Phylogenetic relationship, diet, gut morphology, host physiology, and ecology all influence microbiome composition within and between animal clades. Emerging evidence points to host genetics as also playing a role in determining gut microbial composition within species. Here, we discuss recent advances in the study of microbiome heritability across a variety of animal species. Candidate gene and discovery-based studies in humans, mice, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans, cattle, swine, poultry, and baboons reveal trends in the types of microbes that are heritable and the host genes and pathways involved in shaping the microbiome. Heritable gut microbes within a host species tend to be phylogenetically restricted. Host genetic variation in immune- and growth-related genes drives the abundances of these heritable bacteria within the gut. With only a small slice of the metazoan branch of the tree of life explored to date, this is an area rife with opportunities to shed light into the mechanisms governing host-microbe relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-226
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Animal Biosciences
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • General Veterinary


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