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Study that divided humans into 3 gut bacteria ‘types’ expands, invites all to participate

  [ 11 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • October 19, 2011

An opportunity for anyone to learn their microbial subset, and help build & exchange information about people who share their ‘enterotype’

Last April an international consortium studying the ‘Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract’ reported their finding that we all belong to 1 of 3 gut microbe types (roughly similar to human blood types) – and those 3 ‘enterotypes’ were not linked to nationality, diet, age, or gender. (See “Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome,” Nature, Apr 20, 2011, by M Arumungam, J Raes, et al.)

According to a commentary Nature posted on that article, the team had already found one disease that seemed to occur only in one enterotype (they declined to say which), and speculated that the types might correspond to basic differences in health and susceptibilities. Meanwhile, the body of research on potential benefits of healthy ‘fecal transplants’ has been growing.

People all over the world began to wonder, of course: What type am I? What determines this gut bacteria type? And what might go along with belonging to each type?

So the my.microbes website was born (
- and a large-scale scientific study open to everyone has been launched. Participation involves submission of a stool sample and some fee for testing.

According to the my.microbes landing page:

“Microbes live in, on and around us all the time, contributing approximately 2 kilograms to our body masses. Most of them are essential for our health and live in equilibrium with our bodies. The vast majority of these microbes live in our guts and breaking this balance may have various consequences such as obesity or inflammatory bowel diseases. Knowing which microbes live in us can lead to better, personalized diets, early diagnosis, and treatment of diseases.

“Thus, the original discoverers of enterotypes launched my.microbes to coordinate a large-scale scientific study open to everyone. The study aims to provide new ways of analyzing any person's gut microbes in the context of samples from many individuals around the world.

“If you would be willing to participate, please download our information package and join today…. [Donations to help support the study are also welcomed.]

"Our Concept:
We will analyze the microbial composition and its related functions from samples that are collected non-invasively from participants. Our goal is to better understand both the similarities/differences between microbiota from different individuals and interactions between microbes and ourselves.

"Individual Results:
Participants will have an option to see how their sample is used and obtain a subset of their personal results in the context of all the others.

"A Global Network:
Participants can optionally contact people with similar microbial profiles around the world to directly share experiences, remedies, health and diet tips."

Again, to learn about the study and submit questions, go to the my.microbes site at


Sources: Thanks to an Oct 14 Co-Cure Listserv post by Kelly, who highlighted an Oct 10 article on my.microbes titled ‘Social Networking the Microbiome’ by Rob Stein in the Washington Post.

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