Inter-individual differences in the gene content of human gut bacterial species.
Gene content differences in human gut microbes can lead to inter-individual phenotypic variations such as digestive capacity. It is unclear whether gene content variation is caused by differences in microbial species composition or by the presence of different strains of the same species; the extent of gene content variation in the latter is unknown. Unlike pan-genome studies of cultivable strains, the use of metagenomic data can provide an unbiased view of structural variation of gut bacterial strains by measuring them in their natural habitats, the gut of each individual in this case, representing native boundaries between gut bacterial populations. We analyzed publicly available metagenomics data from fecal samples to characterize inter-individual variation in gut bacterial species.