Meta-analysis of human genome-microbiome association studies: the MiBioGen consortium initiative.

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PubMed ID: 29880062

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Wang J, Kurilshikov A, Radjabzadeh D, Turpin W, Croitoru K, Bonder MJ, Jackson MA, Medina-Gomez C, Frost F, Homuth G, Rühlemann M, Hughes D, Kim HN, Spector TD, Bell JT, Steves CJ, Timpson N, Franke A, Wijmenga C, Meyer K, Kacprowski T, Franke L, Paterson AD, Raes J, Kraaij R, Zhernakova A

Microbiome. Jun 2018. doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0479-3

COMMENT: In this article the authors announce the MiBioGen consortium initiative, the largest consortium to date devoted to microbiota-GWAS, which has assembled 18 population-level cohorts and some 19,000 participants. Its aim is to generate new knowledge for the rapidly developing field of microbiota research. Several preliminary genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been completed, but more are necessary to achieve a fuller picture.

Each cohort has surveyed the gut microbiome via 16S rRNA sequencing and genotyped their participants with full-genome SNP arrays. The autors have standardized the analytical pipelines for both the microbiota phenotypes and genotypes, and all the data have been processed using identical approaches. Their analysis of microbiome composition shows that it is possible to reduce the potential artifacts introduced by technical differences in generating microbiota data.

The Consortium is now in the process of benchmarking the association tests and performing meta-analyses of genome-wide associations. All pipeline and summary statistics results will be shared using public data repositories. They have adapted the analytical pipelines to suit multi-cohort analyses and expect to gain insight into host-microbiota cross-talk at the genome-wide level. And, as an open consortium, the authors invite more cohorts to join them by contacting one of the corresponding authors and to follow the analytical pipeline they have developed.

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Javier Velasco