Impact of the Microbiome on the Human Genome

Trends Parasitol. 2019 Oct;35(10):809-821. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2019 Aug 23.


Humans live in a microbial world that includes pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cause lethal infections. In addition, a large number of microbial communities inhabit mucosal surfaces where they provide key metabolic activities, facilitating adaptation to changing environments. New genome technologies enable both sequencing of the human genome and sequence-based cataloging of microbial communities inhabiting human mucosal surfaces. These have revealed intricate two-way relationships between the microbiome and the genome, including strong effects of human genotypes on the composition and activity of the microbiome. Likewise, the microbiome plays an important role in training and regulating the immune system, and acts to modify expression of human genetic risk for debilitating chronic inflammatory and immune conditions. These studies are suggesting a new role of the microbiome in human health and disease.

Keywords: disease; evolution; gut; human genome; microbiome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / parasitology
  • Inflammation / parasitology*
  • Microbiota / immunology*

Grant support