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Lee, J., and M. Sison-Mangus. 2018. A Bayesian Semiparametric Regression Model for Joint Analysis of Microbiome Data. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9:522. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.00522

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The successional dynamics of microbial communities are influenced by the synergistic interactions of physical and biological factors. In our motivating data, ocean microbiome samples were collected from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, Monterey Bay at multiple time points and then 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequenced. We develop a Bayesian semiparametric regression model to investigate how microbial abundance and succession change with covarying physical and biological factors including algal bloom and domoic acid concentration level using 16S rRNA sequencing data. A generalized linear regression model is built using the Laplace prior, a sparse inducing prior, to improve estimation of covariate effects on mean abundances of microbial species represented by operational taxonomic units (OTUs). A nonparametric prior model is used to facilitate borrowing strength across OTUs, across samples and across time points. It flexibly estimates baseline mean abundances of OTUs and provides the basis for improved quantification of covariate effects. The proposed method does not require prior normalization of OTU counts to adjust differences in sample total counts. Instead, the normalization and estimation of covariate effects on OTU abundance are simultaneously carried out for joint analysis of all OTUs. Using simulation studies and a real data analysis, we demonstrate improved inference compared to an existing method.

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