Refining Current Human Microbiome Research Practices

The main goal of human gut microbiome research is to accurately represent the human gut environment, but current practice may be failing without considering stool processing and storage conditions. Diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes and obesity  have been associated with the gut microbiome through extensive research, which relies heavily on the sampling methods; however, these methods are not stressed in a majority of microbiome research.

A new study has proven that the preparation, handling, and storage of human feces are critical processes that may alter the results.

Prior to analysis, researchers recommend that the entire fecal sample should be homogenized. In addition, human stool samples used for DNA-based microbial population research should be frozen within 15 minutes of taking the sample, then stored in a freezer for up to 3 days. The handling of human stool sampling should be standardized, which would reduce large variabilities seen in research.


Gorzelak MA, Gill SK, Tasnim N, Ahmadi-Vand Z, Jay M, et al. (2015) Methods for Improving Human Gut Microbiome Data by Reducing Variability through Sample Processing and Storage of Stool. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0134802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134802

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