Mammals exhibit marked interindividual variations in their gut microbiota, but it remains unclear if this is primarily driven by host genetics or by extrinsic factors like dietary intake. To address this, we examined the effect of dietary perturbations on the gut microbiota of five inbred mouse strains, mice deficient for genes relevant to host-microbial interactions (MyD88(-/-), NOD2(-/-), ob/ob, and Rag1(-/-)), and >200 outbred mice. In each experiment, consumption of a high-fat, high-sugar diet reproducibly altered the gut microbiota despite differences in host genotype. The gut microbiota exhibited a linear dose response to dietary perturbations, taking an average of 3.5 days for each diet-responsive bacterial group to reach a new steady state. Repeated dietary shifts demonstrated that most changes to the gut microbiota are reversible, while also uncovering bacteria whose abundance depends on prior consumption. These results emphasize the dominant role that diet plays in shaping interindividual variations in host-associated microbial communities.
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