GWAS of commensal bacterial species from the gut microbiome
Genome-wide association study (GWAS) uses genome-wide genetic variants in different individuals to discover variants associating with certain traits. While GWAS has contributed significantly to our understandings of human genetics, little has been done to use GWAS to promote our knowledge of gene functions for microbiology. A key challenge is the small number of genomes available for most commensal microbial species. With the large sample collections from Lifelines Biobank, researchers are planning to launch the first large scale GWAS study for commensal microbial species. Researchers will sequene hundreds of genomes for targeted microbial species that are isolated from the Lifelines stool sample. These genome collections, pairing with measurements of various traits (e.g. antibiotic resistance and microbe-host immune system interactions), will potentially reveal gene functions that are otherwise difficult to discover, and will study specifically the interaction with the host.