Thursday, 6 February 2020

Persistence of gut microbial strains in twins

Using a genomics strain-tracking bioinformatics tool, researchers investigated whether shared bacterial strains remain stable and resilient to changes in diet or environment after adult twins -- who had lived together for decades -- began to live apart. The study analyzed two metagenomic sequencing databases from pairs of twins -- one for children who were still living together and the other from adult twins, ages 36 to 80, who then lived apart for periods from one to 59 years.

The study used a strain-tracking bioinformatics tool previously developed by UAB, called Window-based Similarity Single-nucleotide-variant, or WSS. Hyunmin Koo, Ph.D., UAB Department of Genetics and Genomics Core, led the informatics analysis. The research generated about six terabytes of data, which was analyzed with the help of the Cheaha UABgrid supercomputer and the UAB Information Technology's Research Computing group.

The UAB researchers found significantly more shared strain pairs in child-aged twins who still lived together, as compared with adult twins after living apart for periods of time. Among the adult twins, those who had lived apart less than 10 years shared significantly more related strain pairs than twins living apart for longer periods, from 10 to 60 years.
Specifically, 80-year-old twins who had lived together for 79 years then were apart for 1 year showed the highest number of related strain pairs. The next highest numbers of related strain pairs were found in 56-year-old twins who had lived together for 51 years then apart for five years, in 73-year-old twins who lived together for 66 years and then apart for seven years, and in 36-year-old twins separated for 19 years.

Single-shared strains were seen in three twin sets who had lived apart between 22 to 54 years, but these sporadic shared strains did not show a correlation with the length of living apart.


Hyunmin Koo, Joseph A. Hakim, David K. Crossman, Elliot J. Lefkowitz, Casey D. Morrow. Sharing of gut microbial strains between selected individual sets of twins cohabitating for decades. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (12): e0226111 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226111

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources

Special offers