Human gut microbiome

Identifying genetic loci controlling human gut microbiota traits in wild wheat collections and derived germplasm

Photo Credit: Nate Korth
Project Summary

Dietary modulation of the gut microbiota to improve human health represents an exciting opportunity to devise entirely new approaches for disease prevention. As a staple food in the American diet, wheat offers an ideal vehicle for impacting the gut microbiome in targeted, desirable ways to make a significant impact on public health. This project aims to identify genetic loci in wild wheat collections from the WGRC that impact the human gut microbiome, with the overall goal of improving human health. This project addresses the goal of the WGRC I/UCRC to screen wild wheat collections and derived germplasm to improve the nutritional quality of wheat. The specific objectives are: 1) determine the impact of wild wheat introgression collections from the WGRC on the human gut microbiome; and 2) genetic association analysis to identify introgression regions controlling stimulation of beneficial gut bacteria. These are the project deliverables: multiple effect loci in wheat associated with changes in gut microbial populations; foundational information for mechanistic studies involving wheat-microbiome health interactions; markers for efficient breeding; wheat genotypes that stimulate desirable effects on the gut microbiota that can be used in breeding. These desirable effects on the gut microbiome could include stimulation of health-associated bacteria or production of beneficial microbial metabolites. This project represents an innovative approach to improving the health promoting properties of wheat by targeting the human gut microbiome. This project proposes a novel approach to improving the quality of the US food supply to help keep US agriculture competitive and sustainable while also addressing consumer desires for healthy foods that maintain a high quality of life.