by Andrew W. Brooks, Sambhawa Priya, Ran Blekhman, Seth R. Bordenstein
Composed of hundreds of microbial species, the composition of the human gut microbiota can vary with chronic diseases underlying health disparities that disproportionally affect ethnic minorities. However, the influence of ethnicity on the gut microbiota remains largely unexplored and lacks reproducible generalizations across studies. By distilling associations between ethnicity and differences in two US-based 16S gut microbiota data sets including 1,673 individuals, we report 12 microbial genera and families that reproducibly vary by ethnicity. Interestingly, a majority of these microbial taxa, including the most heritable bacterial family, Christensenellaceae, overlap with genetically associated taxa and form co-occurring clusters linked by similar fermentative and methanogenic metabolic processes. These results demonstrate recurrent associations between specific taxa in the gut microbiota and ethnicity, providing hypotheses for examining specific members of the gut microbiota as mediators of health disparities.
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