Purpose of review
Genetic evolution of multicellular organisms has occurred in response to environmental challenges, including competition for nutrients, climate change, physical and chemical stressors, and pathogens. However, fitness of an organism is dependent not only on defense efficacy, but also on the ability to take advantage of symbiotic organisms. Indeed, microbes not only encompass pathogenicity, but also enable efficient nutrient uptake from diets nondegradable by the host itself. Moreover, microbes play important roles in the development of host immunity. Here we review associations between specific host genes and variance in microbiota composition and compare with interactions between microbes and host immunity.
Recent genome-wide association studies reveal that symbiosis between host and microbiota is the exquisite result of genetic coevolution. Moreover, a subset of microbes from human and mouse microbiota have been identified to interact with humoral and cellular immunity. Interestingly, microbes associated with both host genetics and host immunity are taxonomically related. Most involved are Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Akkermansia, which are dually associated with both host immunity and host genetics.
We conclude that future therapeutics targeting microbiota in the context of chronic inflammatory diseases need to consider both immune and genetic host features associated with microbiota homeostasis.