Crop Biotech Update

Social Network and Gut Bacteria Database in One

September 15, 2011

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany launched MyMicrobes, a social network that invites people to have their gut bacteria sequenced. Aside from gathering a wealth of information to understand further the bacteria present in people's guts, the website also enables the participants to share diet tips, stories, and gastrointestinal woes.

"I got between 50 and 100 e-mails from regular people having problems with the stomach or diarrhea and wondering if we can help them," says co-author Peer Bork, a biochemist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. "They were long e-mails. There must be a lot of frustrated people out there." That response, he says, spurred the creation of MyMicrobes.

MyMicrobes was conceptualized by the same team of researchers that discovered that people fall into one of the three groups or enterotypes which is based on the genetics of their gut bacteria. At present they have found evidences that certain gut-specific genetic markers are linked to obesity and other diseases. The researchers also suspect that gut enterotypes could affect how people respond to various drugs and diets. At present there are more than 100 participants and their goal is to get 5,000 participants to get significant results.

Read more at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=social-network-wants-to-sequence.