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Publications in peer reviewed journals

5 Publications found
  • Extending and improving metagenomic taxonomic profiling with uncharacterized species using MetaPhlAn 4.

    Blanco-Míguez A, Beghini F, Cumbo F, McIver LJ, Thompson KN, Zolfo M, Manghi P, Dubois L, Huang KD, Thomas AM, Nickols WA, Piccinno G, Piperni E, Punčochář M, Valles-Colomer M, Tett A, Giordano F, Davies R, Wolf J, Berry SE, Spector TD, Franzosa EA, Pasolli E, Asnicar F, Huttenhower C, Segata N
    2023 - Nat Biotechnol, in press


    Metagenomic assembly enables new organism discovery from microbial communities, but it can only capture few abundant organisms from most metagenomes. Here we present MetaPhlAn 4, which integrates information from metagenome assemblies and microbial isolate genomes for more comprehensive metagenomic taxonomic profiling. From a curated collection of 1.01 M prokaryotic reference and metagenome-assembled genomes, we define unique marker genes for 26,970 species-level genome bins, 4,992 of them taxonomically unidentified at the species level. MetaPhlAn 4 explains ~20% more reads in most international human gut microbiomes and >40% in less-characterized environments such as the rumen microbiome and proves more accurate than available alternatives on synthetic evaluations while also reliably quantifying organisms with no cultured isolates. Application of the method to >24,500 metagenomes highlights previously undetected species to be strong biomarkers for host conditions and lifestyles in human and mouse microbiomes and shows that even previously uncharacterized species can be genetically profiled at the resolution of single microbial strains.

  • The person-to-person transmission landscape of the gut and oral microbiomes.

    Valles-Colomer M, Blanco-Míguez A, Manghi P, Asnicar F, Dubois L, Golzato D, Armanini F, Cumbo F, Huang KD, Manara S, Masetti G, Pinto F, Piperni E, Punčochář M, Ricci L, Zolfo M, Farrant O, Goncalves A, Selma-Royo M, Binetti AG, Becerra JE, Han B, Lusingu J, Amuasi J, Amoroso L, Visconti A, Steves CM, Falchi M, Filosi M, Tett A, Last A, Xu Q, Qin N, Qin H, May J, Eibach D, Corrias MV, Ponzoni M, Pasolli E, Spector TD, Domenici E, Collado MC, Segata N
    2023 - Nature, 7946: 125-135


    The human microbiome is an integral component of the human body and a co-determinant of several health conditions. However, the extent to which interpersonal relations shape the individual genetic makeup of the microbiome and its transmission within and across populations remains largely unknown. Here, capitalizing on more than 9,700 human metagenomes and computational strain-level profiling, we detected extensive bacterial strain sharing across individuals (more than 10 million instances) with distinct mother-to-infant, intra-household and intra-population transmission patterns. Mother-to-infant gut microbiome transmission was considerable and stable during infancy (around 50% of the same strains among shared species (strain-sharing rate)) and remained detectable at older ages. By contrast, the transmission of the oral microbiome occurred largely horizontally and was enhanced by the duration of cohabitation. There was substantial strain sharing among cohabiting individuals, with 12% and 32% median strain-sharing rates for the gut and oral microbiomes, and time since cohabitation affected strain sharing more than age or genetics did. Bacterial strain sharing additionally recapitulated host population structures better than species-level profiles did. Finally, distinct taxa appeared as efficient spreaders across transmission modes and were associated with different predicted bacterial phenotypes linked with out-of-host survival capabilities. The extent of microorganism transmission that we describe underscores its relevance in human microbiome studies, especially those on non-infectious, microbiome-associated diseases.

  • Hallstatt miners consumed blue cheese and beer during the Iron Age and retained a non-Westernized gut microbiome until the Baroque period.

    Maixner F, Sarhan MS, Huang KD, Tett A, Schoenafinger A, Zingale S, Blanco-Míguez A, Manghi P, Cemper-Kiesslich J, Rosendahl W, Kusebauch U, Morrone SR, Hoopmann MR, Rota-Stabelli O, Rattei T, Moritz RL, Oeggl K, Segata N, Zink A, Reschreiter H, Kowarik K
    2021 - Curr Biol, 23: 5149-5162.e6


    We subjected human paleofeces dating from the Bronze Age to the Baroque period (18 century AD) to in-depth microscopic, metagenomic, and proteomic analyses. The paleofeces were preserved in the underground salt mines of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hallstatt in Austria. This allowed us to reconstruct the diet of the former population and gain insights into their ancient gut microbiome composition. Our dietary survey identified bran and glumes of different cereals as some of the most prevalent plant fragments. This highly fibrous, carbohydrate-rich diet was supplemented with proteins from broad beans and occasionally with fruits, nuts, or animal food products. Due to these traditional dietary habits, all ancient miners up to the Baroque period have gut microbiome structures akin to modern non-Westernized individuals whose diets are also mainly composed of unprocessed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. This may indicate a shift in the gut community composition of modern Westernized populations due to quite recent dietary and lifestyle changes. When we extended our microbial survey to fungi present in the paleofeces, in one of the Iron Age samples, we observed a high abundance of Penicillium roqueforti and Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA. Genome-wide analysis indicates that both fungi were involved in food fermentation and provides the first molecular evidence for blue cheese and beer consumption in Iron Age Europe.

  • Prevotella diversity, niches and interactions with the human host.

    Tett A, Pasolli E, Masetti G, Ercolini D, Segata N
    2021 - Nat Rev Microbiol, 9: 585-599


    The genus Prevotella includes more than 50 characterized species that occur in varied natural habitats, although most Prevotella spp. are associated with humans. In the human microbiome, Prevotella spp. are highly abundant in various body sites, where they are key players in the balance between health and disease. Host factors related to diet, lifestyle and geography are fundamental in affecting the diversity and prevalence of Prevotella species and strains in the human microbiome. These factors, along with the ecological relationship of Prevotella with other members of the microbiome, likely determine the extent of the contribution of Prevotella to human metabolism and health. Here we review the diversity, prevalence and potential connection of Prevotella spp. in the human host, highlighting how genomic methods and analysis have improved and should further help in framing their ecological role. We also provide suggestions for future research to improve understanding of the possible functions of Prevotella spp. and the effects of the Western lifestyle and diet on the host-Prevotella symbiotic relationship in the context of maintaining human health.

  • The Prevotella copri Complex Comprises Four Distinct Clades Underrepresented in Westernized Populations.

    Tett A, Huang KD, Asnicar F, Fehlner-Peach H, Pasolli E, Karcher N, Armanini F, Manghi P, Bonham K, Zolfo M, De Filippis F, Magnabosco C, Bonneau R, Lusingu J, Amuasi J, Reinhard K, Rattei T, Boulund F, Engstrand L, Zink A, Collado MC, Littman DR, Eibach D, Ercolini D, Rota-Stabelli O, Huttenhower C, Maixner F, Segata N
    2019 - Cell Host Microbe, 5: 666-679.e7


    Prevotella copri is a common human gut microbe that has been both positively and negatively associated with host health. In a cross-continent meta-analysis exploiting >6,500 metagenomes, we obtained >1,000 genomes and explored the genetic and population structure of P. copri. P. copri encompasses four distinct clades (>10% inter-clade genetic divergence) that we propose constitute the P. copri complex, and all clades were confirmed by isolate sequencing. These clades are nearly ubiquitous and co-present in non-Westernized populations. Genomic analysis showed substantial functional diversity in the complex with notable differences in carbohydrate metabolism, suggesting that multi-generational dietary modifications may be driving reduced prevalence in Westernized populations. Analysis of ancient metagenomes highlighted patterns of P. copri presence consistent with modern non-Westernized populations and a clade delineation time pre-dating human migratory waves out of Africa. These findings reveal that P. copri exhibits a high diversity that is underrepresented in Western-lifestyle populations.

Book chapters and other publications

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