Andy Benson

Andy Benson portrait


Benson’s research group studies the complex sets of host and dietary factors that collectively influence composition and function of the gut microbiome. In collaboration with statisticians, computational biologists, and animal geneticists, Benson’s research program has focused on understanding how individual genetics can influence the microbiome and how dietary factors can modify the impact of host genetics, most likely through a direct impact of diet on the gut microbiome. Benson’s group is also spearheading the discovery component of the Nebraska Food for Health Center using complex trait analysis in crop plants to define components and molecules that can impact the gut microbiome of humans. Working closely with center members in plant genetics, statistics, and glycobiology, his team uses in vitro microbiomes in high-throughput screens of milled grains from large genetic resource populations of crop plants. This approach to complex phenotyping enables a rapid and quantitative measurements of thousands of genetic variants to define pathways and molecules that are capable of influencing one or more members of the gut microbiome.

Featured Publications

Benson AK. The gut microbiome-an emerging complex trait. Nat Genet. 2016 Oct 27;48(11):1301-1302. doi: 10.1038/ng.3707. PubMed PMID: 27787511.

Sinha R, Clarke J, Benson AK. Alignment behaviors of short peptides provide a roadmap for functional profiling of metagenomic data. BMC Genomics. 2015 Dec 21;16:1080. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-2272-z. PubMed PMID: 26691573; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4687345. 

Leamy LJ, Kelly SA, Nietfeldt J, Legge RM, Ma F, Hua K, Sinha R, Peterson DA, Walter J, Benson AK, Pomp D. Host genetics and diet, but not immunoglobulin A expression, converge to shape compositional features of the gut microbiome in an advanced intercross population of mice. Genome Biol. 2014;15(12):552. PubMed PMID: 25516416; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4290092.

McKnite AM, Perez-Munoz ME, Lu L, Williams EG, Brewer S, Andreux PA, Bastiaansen JW, Wang X, Kachman SD, Auwerx J, Williams RW, Benson AK, Peterson DA, Ciobanu DC. Murine gut microbiota is defined by host genetics and modulates variation of metabolic traits. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39191. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039191. Epub 2012 Jun 18. PubMed PMID: 22723961; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3377628.

Benson AK, Kelly SA, Legge R, Ma F, Low SJ, Kim J, Zhang M, Oh PL, Nehrenberg D, Hua K, Kachman SD, Moriyama EN, Walter J, Peterson DA, Pomp D. Individuality in gut microbiota composition is a complex polygenic trait shaped by multiple environmental and host genetic factors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Nov 2;107(44):18933-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1007028107. Epub 2010 Oct 11. PubMed PMID: 20937875; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2973891.