Our overarching goal is to gather a comprehensive sample of individuals with eating disorders (EDs) and matched controls to study the effects of the microbiome in these disorders. We have collected and sequenced microbiome samples in two individual projects: The Binge Eating Genetics INitiative (BEGIN), and the Investigation of Microbiomes in Anorexia Nervosa (IMA). BEGIN is focused on bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge-eating disorder (BED), and IMA is focused on anorexia nervosa (AN). In addition to the microbiome, we genotyped the study participants and collected a wealth of data through validated questionnaires for deep phenotyping. We are also collecting microbiome sample in an ongoing project called the Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI). Unlike the previous projects, EDGI will emphasizes the fluidity of these diagnoses and the way individuals transition from one ED to another.
Shotgun metagenome sequencing of the IMA and BEGIN samples has been conducted on the Illumina Novaseq platform. Raw sequence data will be quality filtered and trimmed to remove host DNA. We will perform taxonomic and functional profiling of the data. We will assess the diversity and composition of the microbiome in cases and healthy controls, and evaluate the relation between microbial features and the ED-related phenotypes. We will also study the genetic links between the microbiome and the EDs. Using genetic tools, we will identify potential microbial taxa that may be causally linked to EDs and we will evaluate the genetic risks of microbial taxa and their associations with EDs.