TITLE: “Restricted diet drives autism gut-microbiome associations, and other tales from the Australian Autism Biobank”
ABSTRACT: The Australian Autism Biobank (AAB) is an initiative of the Autism CRC – the first national, cooperative research effort focused on autism across the lifespan. The AAB recruited a total of ~2,500 autistic children, family members, and unrelated undiagnosed children, and couples deep phenotypic information with multi-omic datasets (SNP genotyping, stool metagenomics, DNA methylation, metabolomics, WGS). One particularly controversial area in the field has been the potential causal contribution of the gut microbiome to autism. I will present results from one of the largest metagenomics study of the autism stool microbiome to date (n=246, including 99 children diagnosed with autism). We propose a model whereby microbiome changes in autistic children may reflect consequences of behaviour and dietary preferences, and we caution against undue emphasis on the microbiome having an upstream role in autism.