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Team Gearing Up For Gut Microbiome Crowdsourcing Project

A group of scientists based at several institutions in the US and beyond are getting set to kick off a crowdsourcing study called the "American Gut Project," aimed at assessing gut microbial communities in 10,000 or more individuals in the US in relation to their diet and lifestyle.

"The big question is, 'Is diet driving differences in the gut microbiome?'" project organizer Jeff Leach told GenomeWeb Daily News. "There are indications that it does, but the sample sizes are small."

"We don't expect to be able to address some questions, but because of the size of the sample and because of the broad patterns we expect to see in diet and lifestyle, we think some stuff will fall out," added Leach, who has a background in archeology and a long-standing interest in diet and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective.

Also involved in leading the effort are members of the Earth Microbiome Project, including University of Colorado at Boulder bioinformatics researcher Rob Knight and Argonne National Laboratory's Jack Gilbert.

The University of Colorado's institutional review board will oversee the effort and has granted approval for the team to test up to 20,000 people for the gut microbiome project.

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