Ever wondered who is living in your gut, and what they're doing? The trillions of microbial partners in and on our bodies outnumber our own cells by as many as 10 to 1 and do all sorts of important jobs, from helping digest the food we eat this Thanksgiving to building up our immune systems.
In association with the Human Food Project, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder along with researchers at other institutions around the world are launching a new open-access project known as "American Gut" in which participants can get involved in finding out what microbes are in their own guts and what they are doing in there.
The project builds on previous efforts, including the five-year, $173-million NIH-funded Human Microbiome Project, to characterize the microbes living in and on our bodies, said Associate Professor Rob Knight of CU-Boulder's BioFrontiers Institute. But unlike other projects that have focused on carefully chosen test subjects with a few hundred people, this project allows the public to get involved and is encouraging tens of thousands of people to do so, Knight said.
"Galileo saw outer space through his telescope, and we want to see the inner space of your gut through modern genetics," said Rob Dunn, a scientist at North Carolina State University and a collaborator on the project. The new project will be "crowd-funded" by individuals interested in learning more about their own gut bacteria and by others who simply want to contribute to the project, said Dunn.
"By combining the crowd-funding model with the open-access data analysis model that we pioneered with the Earth Microbiome Project, we can finally give anyone with an interest in his or her microbiome an opportunity to participate, whether by contributing samples or by looking at the data," said Knight, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.
Public interest is immense, says the research team. 18,000 people h
|Contact: Rob Knight|
University of Colorado at Boulder