A consortium around BGI Shenzen carried out analysis on gut microbial content in patients with type 2 diabetes and developed a protocol for a metagenome-wide association study (MGWAS) based on deep shotgun sequencing of the gut microbial DNA from 345 Chinese individuals. We identified and validated approximately 60,000 type-2-diabetes-associated markers and established the concept of a metagenomic linkage group, enabling taxonomic species-level analyses. MGWAS analysis showed that patients with type 2 diabetes were characterized by a moderate degree of gut microbial dysbiosis, a decrease in the abundance of some universal butyrate-producing bacteria and an increase in various opportunistic pathogens, as well as an enrichment of other microbial functions conferring sulphate reduction and oxidative stress resistance.

J Qin et al., doi:10.1038/nature11450, Sept. 27, 2012 online