FishTaco and Your Microbiome

Your microbiome comprises the trillions of microbes that live in or on your body, and one of the most studied microbiomes is in the gut. Scientists have realized that changes in the composition of bacterial communities in our intestines are associated with certain diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases and certain neurological disorders. Being able to determine which bacteria are responsible for which functional imbalances is key to finding improved cures and treatments. UW Medicine researchers, led by Elhanan Borenstein, Ph.D., UW associate professor in the Department of Genome Sciences, have identified a new method to do so. The “Functional Shifts’ Taxonomic Contributors” method, nicknamed FishTaco, integrates two common ways scientists look for associations between microbiomes and disease: a taxonomic approach and a functional approach. Using this method, researchers identified the species in the microbiome that contribute to type 2 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. Results were published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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