The advent of genome-wide association studies for bacteria
Peter E Chen , B Jesse Shapiro
Significant advances in sequencing technologies and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed substantial insight into the genetic architecture of human phenotypes. In recent years, the application of this approach in bacteria has begun to reveal the genetic basis of bacterial host preference, antibiotic resistance, and virulence. Here, we consider relevant differences between bacterial and human genome dynamics, apply GWAS to a global sample of Mycobacterium tuberculosis genomes to highlight the impacts of linkage disequilibrium, population stratification, and natural selection, and finally compare the traditional GWAS against phyC, a contrasting method of mapping genotype to phenotype based upon evolutionary convergence. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of both methods, and make suggestions for factors to be considered in future bacterial GWAS.