In our bodies as in other ecological systems, a rich variety of microorganisms can help ward off disease. Our gut harbors millions of beneficial organisms and lack of gut flora diversity has been linked to autism, obesity and inflammation. Do these varied bacteria come from the food we eat? This pilot study will compare organic and conventional produce to see what kinds of bacteria we are eating (yes, plenty of bacteria call your food home)
In our bodies, as in other ecological systems, a rich variety of microorganisms can help ward off disease. Our gut harbors millions of beneficial bacteria, and lack of gut flora diversity has been linked to autism, obesity and inflammation. Does a part of this important bacterial diversity come from the food we eat? This pilot study will compare organic and conventional produce to see what varieties of bacteria are found on each.
New and exciting research shows that our health depends on certain populations of gut bacteria that originate from our environment. In fact, we are only 10% human! The rest of the DNA in and on our bodies is microbial; we just don't notice because bacterial cells are much tinier than our own.
Interestingly, there is little overlap between medical and soil science. We believe there is a considerable association between human health and how food is produced. Diversity of soil microbes keeps plants healthy because a biologically diverse soil can better deal with environmental stress. In the same way, the gut needs a diversity of microbes for our own optimum health. Microbes can be acquired through what we eat, but the question remains: do agricultural practices influence the presence and diversity of microbes on our food? The answer may lead to a greater awareness of the way we grow our food and the consequences to our health.
The $6000 budget will pay for genomic sequencing of all of the bacteria that are present on the fruit and/or vegetable samples. All other costs are being borne by the researchers.
Risks and challenges
- Risk 1: Null hypothesis. Anytime novel research is done, there is a possibility that the research doesn't support the hypothesis.
-Risk 2: Small sample size. This is a pilot study to determine if there is a difference in organic vs. conventional, but with a small sample size, we may miss differences that might show up in a larger sample size.
-Risk 3: The season and/or location of produce harvest could have an effect on the microbial diversity that wouldn't be captured by the small sample size.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)