Seminar, 13. March 2017, Marc-Thorsten Hütt

13. March 2017, 11:30 a.m. – Monday

Ernst-Abbe-Platz 2, seminar room 3423

Boolean network analysis of species interactions in the human gut microbiome

Prof. Dr. Marc-Thorsten Hütt
(Computational Systems Biology, Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany)

The analysis of microbiome compositions in the human gut has gained increasing interest due to the broader availability of data and functional databases and substantial progress in data analysis methods, but also due to the high relevance of the microbiome in human health and disease. While most analyses tend to infer interactions among highly abundant species, the large number of low-abundance species has received less attention.

In my talk I present a novel analysis method based on Boolean networks applied to microbial co-occurrence patterns. Using binarized abundance vectors (recording only the presence and absence of microbial species) our method shows that the low-abundance segment of the microbiome also contains a large number of systematic interactions.

The method is first tested and calibrated with simulated data based on a dynamical Boolean network model by interpreting the statistics of attractor states as a theoretical proxy for microbiome compositions. In our subsequent analysis of microbiome compositions of the human gut, we find a large number of highly significant synergistic interactions among low-abundance species, forming a connected network, and a few isolated competitive interactions.

Combining the Boolean network study and the analysis of empiricial data, our investigation shows the rich and fascinating interplay of abundance patterns and the architecture of microbial interaction networks.