Despite substantial interest in the species diversity of the human microbiome and its role in disease, the scale of its genetic diversity, which is fundamental to deciphering human-microbe interactions, has not been quantified. Here, we conducted a cross-study meta-analysis of metagenomes from two human body niches, the mouth and gut, covering 3,655 samples from 13 studies. We found staggering genetic heterogeneity in the dataset, identifying a total of 45,666,334 non-redundant genes (23,961,508 oral and 22,254,436 gut) at the 95% identity level. Fifty percent of all genes were "singletons," or unique to a single metagenomic sample. Singletons were enriched for different functions (compared with non-singletons) and arose from sub-population-specific microbial strains. Overall, these results provide potential bases for the unexplained heterogeneity observed in microbiome-derived human phenotypes. One the basis of these data, we built a resource, which can be accessed at https://microbial-genes.bio.
Keywords: de novo assembly; gene catalog; gene diversity; gut microbiome; metagenomics; microbial diversity; oral microbiome.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.