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University Medical Center Groningen

Dutch Microbiome Project reveals the healthy gut microbiome and a leading role for environment

20 April 2022

A team of researchers from the Groningen Microbiome Hub, including many researchers from the Department of Genetics, have now been able to properly determine the composition of a healthy gut microbiome and the influence of environment versus genetics on microbiome composition through large-scale research in the more than 8,200 Lifelines participants who are part of the Dutch Microbiome Project.

The detailed analysis, reported in Nature, allowed the team to indicate which microbes are associated with disease, defining an "unhealthy" microbiome that showed consistency over a wide range of diseases. This, in turn, allowed the team to also define a "healthy" gut microbiome, a concept that had remained elusive until now. The study also found that people living together in a household share a more similar composition and that sharing a living environment and lifestyle has a greater influence than our genetics. Interestingly, the composition of the microbiome reflected not only current living conditions but also past circumstances such as the urbanicity of childhood home and whether a participant’s parents smoked.

The results of this very comprehensive study provide a deep catalog of the microbiome and the factors that influence its composition, which can be the basis for developing therapies that target the microbiome.

To learn more

Read the Nature paper here:

Dutch press release:

English press release:

For more information about the Groningen Microbiome Hub's research see their website:

Last modified:20 April 2022 4.13 p.m.

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