Impact of ethnicity, geography, and disease on the microbiota in health and inflammatory bowel disease

Lani Prideaux, Seungha Kang, Josef Wagner, Michael Buckley, Jackie E. Mahar, Peter De Cruz, Zhonghui Wen, Liping Chen, Bing Xia, Daniel R. Van Langenberg, Trevor Lockett, Siew C. Ng, Joseph J.Y. Sung, Paul Desmond, Chris McSweeney, Mark Morrison, Carl D. Kirkwood, Michael A. Kamm

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47 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The gut microbiota is central to health and disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. Differences in microbiota related to geography and ethnicity may hold the key to recent changes in the incidence of microbiota-related disorders. Methods: Gut mucosal microbiota was analyzed in 190 samples from 87 Caucasian and Chinese subjects, from Australia and Hong Kong, comprising 22 patients with Crohn's disease, 30 patients with ulcerative colitis, 29 healthy controls, and 6 healthy relatives of patients with Crohn's disease. Bacterial 16S rRNA microarray and 454 pyrosequencing were performed. Results: The microbiota was diverse in health, regardless of ethnicity or geography (operational taxonomic unit number and Shannon diversity index). Ethnicity and geography, however, did affect microbial composition. Crohn's disease resulted in reduced bacterial diversity, regardless of ethnicity or geography, and was the strongest determinant of composition. In ulcerative colitis, diversity was reduced in Chinese subjects only, suggesting that ethnicity is a determinant of bacterial diversity, whereas composition was determined by disease and ethnicity. Specific phylotypes were different between health and disease. Chinese patients with inflammatory bowel disease more often than healthy Chinese tended to have had a Western diet in childhood, in the East and West. Conclusion: The healthy microbiota is diverse but compositionally affected by geographical and ethnic factors. The microbiota is substantially altered in inflammatory bowel disease, but ethnicity may also play an important role. This may be key to the changing epidemiology in developing countries, and emigrants to the West.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2906-2918
Number of pages13
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnic
  • Geography
  • IBD
  • Metagenomic
  • Microbiota

Cite this

Prideaux, L., Kang, S., Wagner, J., Buckley, M., Mahar, J. E., De Cruz, P., Wen, Z., Chen, L., Xia, B., Van Langenberg, D. R., Lockett, T., Ng, S. C., Sung, J. J. Y., Desmond, P., McSweeney, C., Morrison, M., Kirkwood, C. D., & Kamm, M. A. (2013). Impact of ethnicity, geography, and disease on the microbiota in health and inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 19(13), 2906-2918.