Gut microbiome reference ranges

May 8, 2017 at 05:03 pm
MiCWA - Microbiome Consortium of Western Australia

Reference ranges for 28 clinically relevant microbial taxa from the human gut microbiome

Daniel E. Almonacid et al., PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176555

Changes in the relative abundances of many intestinal microorganisms, both those that naturally occur in the human gut microbiome and those that are considered pathogens, have been associated with a range of diseases. To more accurately diagnose health conditions, medical practitioners could benefit from a molecular, culture-independent assay for the quantification of these microorganisms in the context of a healthy reference range. Here we present the targeted sequencing of the microbial 16S rRNA gene of clinically relevant gut microorganisms as a method to provide a gut screening test that could assist in the clinical diagnosis of certain health conditions. We evaluated the possibility of detecting 46 clinical prokaryotic targets in the human gut, 28 of which could be identified with high precision and sensitivity by a bioinformatics pipeline that includes sequence analysis and taxonomic annotation. These targets included 20 commensal, 3 beneficial (probiotic), and 5 pathogenic intestinal microbial taxa. Using stool microbiome samples from a cohort of 897 healthy individuals, we established a reference range defining clinically relevant relative levels for each of the 28 targets. Our assay quantifies 28 targets in the context of a healthy reference range and correctly reflected 38/38 verification samples of real and synthetic stool material containing known gut pathogens. Thus, we have established a method to determine microbiome composition with a focus on clinically relevant taxa, which has the potential to contribute to patient diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. More broadly, our method can facilitate epidemiological studies of the microbiome as it relates to overall human health and disease


Telethon KIds Institute
Australian Phenomics Facility
Lottery West State Biomedical Facility Genomics
Centre for Comparative Genomics
Australian Genome Research Facility
WA Human Microbiome Collaboration Centre
West Coast Microbiome Network