Disappearing Human Microbiomes and their Preservation in Biobanks

The human microbiome is so complex, some call it the “second genome.” An ecosystem of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses, the genetic material within these mostly intestinal microbes influences everything from the immune system to our emotional state. A deeper understanding of the human microbiome, scientists hope, will lead to treatments or cures for chronic disease.

The central premise of the “disappearing microbiome” theory is that a sweeping change in our external environments has led to similarly sweeping changes in our internal environments. Scientists are worried we’re at risk of losing certain microbial species which may prove to be the most helpful for treating disease. Competing efforts are underway to collect and preserve samples of these microbiomes, found within feces, in banks. Some of the microbiome biobanking organisations are listed below. 

  1. The Microbiota Vault
  2. Native BioData Consortium
  3. Global Microbiome Conservancy

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