A major goal of microbiome research is to identify the factors that determine bacterial composition within and upon a host. Environmental factors are thought to play a large role, such as diet in determining gut microbiome composition and moisture in determining skin microbiome composition. The role of host genetics, however, has been a source of debate in the literature. Recently, we examined the association of host genetics with human gut microbiome composition in the Hutterites, a population that lives and eats communally. We identified heritable bacterial taxa and host genetic loci associated with their abundances. In this addendum, I put these results into a broader context along with other recent studies of microbiome heritability, and synthesize common themes that appear across organisms and tissues, such as the relatively small extent genetics plays compared to environment and the role of host genetic variation in immune response and barrier integrity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases