Human Genetics Shape the Gut Microbiome
- •Host genetics influence abundances of health-associated gut bacteria
- •Many heritable taxa co-occur
- •The most heritable, Christensenellaceae, associates with a lean BMI
- •Heritable taxa reduce weight gains in germ-free transplant experiments
Host genetics and the gut microbiome can both influence metabolic phenotypes. However, whether host genetic variation shapes the gut microbiome and interacts with it to affect host phenotype is unclear. Here, we compared microbiotas across >1,000 fecal samples obtained from the TwinsUK population, including 416 twin pairs. We identified many microbial taxa whose abundances were influenced by host genetics. The most heritable taxon, the family Christensenellaceae, formed a co-occurrence network with other heritable Bacteria and with methanogenic Archaea. Furthermore, Christensenellaceae and its partners were enriched in individuals with low body mass index (BMI). An obese-associated microbiome was amended with Christensenella minuta, a cultured member of the Christensenellaceae, and transplanted to germ-free mice. C. minuta amendment reduced weight gain and altered the microbiome of recipient mice. Our findings indicate that host genetics influence the composition of the human gut microbiome and can do so in ways that impact host metabolism.