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

Yang Q, Van Haute M, Korth N, Sattler SE, Rose DJ, Juritsch A, Shao J, Beede K, Schmaltz R, Price JD, Toy J, Ramer-Tait AE & Benson AK. The waxy mutation in sorghum and other cereal grains reshapes the gut microbiome by reducing levels of multiple beneficial species. Gut Microbes. 2023 Feb 21;15(1). doi: 10.1080/19490976.2023.2178799

Yang Q, Van Haute M, Korth N, Sattler SE, Toy J, Rose DJ, Schnable JC, Benson AK. Genetic analysis of seed traits in Sorghum bicolor that affect the human gut microbiome. Nat Commun. 2022 Sep 26;13(1):5641. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-33419-1. Erratum in: Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 8;13(1):6743. PMID: 36163368; PMCID: PMC9513080.

**This article had commentaries in:

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Korth N, Parsons L, Van Haute MJ, Yang Q, Hurst P, Schnable JC, Holding DR, Benson AK. The Unique Seed Protein Composition of Quality Protein Popcorn Promotes Growth of Beneficial Bacteria From the Human Gut Microbiome. Front Microbiol. 2022 Jul 14;13:921456. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.921456. PMID: 35910657; PMCID: PMC9330393.

**This article was recently awarded “outstanding research article” by the chief editors of Frontiers in Microbiology based on its online attention.

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.