Learn which microbes live in your
Gut, Skin & Mouth
As the world’s largest crowd-sourced microbiome research project, the American Gut Project was started to provide a means to collect a large set of data surrounding the microbiome -- the collection of bacteria, fungi, and archaea found in and on the human body. By using crowd-funding as a means build these large, anonymized open-access datasets, anybody interested in contributing to science research can participate, send in a sample, then receive a report that shows a “snapshot” of the microbes found in his/her sample, along with comparisons to the rest of the population. While “gut” may be in the name of the project, sampling can extend as well to the skin and oral sites of the human body, as there are plenty of microbes found in these sites as well.
Citizen science projects welcome the participation of anyone in the discovery and sharing of scientific knowledge -- that way, research in a specific scientific field can pull from data that was generated from the general public!
The American Gut Project is just one of hundreds of active citizen science projects contributing to a diverse range of fields, from astronomy to ecology to genetics and everything in between.
All the data collected by the American Gut Project is de-identified (meaning no information is stored that can trace a sample back to a participant), then made accessible in open repositories such as Qiita and the European Nucleotide Archive. As each participant is provided a questionnaire about their lifestyle factors (answering these questions are optional, but highly recommended as it will help provide more data), the information that he/she provides is associated with the data collected from his/her sample. This way, other researchers around the world can utilize American Gut data to make discoveries of their own by identifying microbiome trends and answering intriguing questions about the connection between our microbes and our health.
Here’s to the power of citizen science!
Why The Gut?
We have more microbes in our gut than in our entire body. There’s roughly 37 trillion human cells, and 50 trillion bacterial cells in your gut (depending on when you last pooped). With approximately 5,000 bacterial species out there and a specific subset found within the human gut, we want to explore more on how these species interact with our various lifestyles and each other to affect our overall health.
Our human genomes are nearly identical, but our microbiomes are not. Even though each individual’s microbiome carries out similar functions, the microbes that perform these functions may be a different species depending on the person. So one person’s microbiome can look completely different from another person’s, but that doesn’t mean anything good or bad, just that we all are different! By collecting a mass amount of data from the public, we can hopefully establish a baseline of what would be considered a “normal” microbiome.
We want to understand the gut’s effect on our health. With a complex set of microbes, we want to learn more about the effects our microbiome has on our body. There’s still limited evidence on the link between microbes and specific diseases in humans, so by collecting data from citizen scientists, we can provide the means to investigate if a certain set of microbes is seem more commonly in a particular lifestyle. There are intriguing studies that associate the microbiome with how we digest our food, our sleep patterns, and even things like depression and Parkinson’s disease! By understanding these links, hopefully microbiome research can make its way into a clinical setting, which will allow for the prospect of new and innovative therapies or diagnostics for these diseases.
How To Join
- Make a monetary contribution via our Fundrazr page. The cost per kit covers the cost of sample processing, sequencing, and analysis (this is where the crowd funding comes in).
- We will send you a sample collection kit in the mail within 2 weeks.
- Collect your samples, register your sample via our participant website, answer some dietary and lifestyle questions, and mail the sample back to us.