9.1 Microbes and genes

There is growing evidence that your human genes affect which microbes you’ll host.120 If you have your 23andme results, click through on the following links to see what your own genes are.

Secretor FUT2 allele https://www.23andme.com/you/explorer/snp/?snp_name=rs601338 If you are AA, then the good news is you are immune to norovirus but the bad news is you don’t digest fiber efficiently, which obviously changes the types of microbes you’d collect. With more data, we’d figure out which types of fiber work and which don’t in people like this. I know several people who are AA and have serious health issues — I’m convinced with this knowledge we’d just need to find the right (probably very weird) diet for them.

This gene correlates highly with Bifidobacterium.121

HLA-B27 https://www.23andme.com/you/explorer/snp/?snp_name=rs6919835 If you have A, you’re more predisposed to autoimmune conditions (like multiple sclerosis) but it’s believed the inflammation itself is caused by Klebsiella bacterium, of which interestingly I’m one of the very few people who shows any in their uBiome results. So am I immune to MS? Or if I somehow transmit my Klebsiella to an A carrier, could I infect them with MS?

(caffeine) https://www.23andme.com/you/explorer/snp/?snp_name=rs762551 I’m AC, which means I’m a slow metabolizer. 23andme thinks that I should stay away from coffee for that reason, but it’s not true! I drink as much as I like with no effects on sleep, and meanwhile uBiome’s functional KEGG test shows I’m 3x more efficient at caffeine metabolism than other people. Why? Because I must have a bug that does the work my genes don’t. Finding that one would be pretty cool.

Lactose intolerance https://you.23andme.com/tools/data/?snp_name=rs4988235 I’m A/G, but people who have a T variant are likely to be lactose intolerant.

HNF4A: diabetes risk in Asians https://you.23andme.com/tools/data/?snp_name=rs4812829

This one’s been proven in mice to be regulated in part by microbes. (see this study: http://genome.cshlp.org/content/early/2017/05/16/gr.220111.116.abstract)

The site xcode.in has a summary of useful sites for getting the most out of your raw data

The website Genetic Life Hacks has another list of 23andme SNPS that relate to the microbiome.



  1. For example see Lim et al. (2017)

  2. See publications by Pirjo Wacklin including: Wacklin et al. (2014) and Wacklin et al. (2011)