Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

The Personal Gut

The microbiome has been linked to all sorts of health conditions and even divvied into various enterotypes. But as Tami Lieberman writes in a guest post at the Oscillator blog, the idea of discrete microbiome types has been called into question, leading her to wonder what can be learned from a one-time look at the microbiome.

Lieberman bought two kits, one from American Gut and one from uBiome, to sample her gut microbiome, see how similar the results are, and examine the variability within one sample. She sent swabs of one small sample to both companies; she sent a second swab of from a different part of the same stool sample to American Gut.

As she writes at the Oscillator blog, the results from the two companies largely agreed on the contents of the common sample they received, though they presented the information in different ways.

However, she found that the two swabs she sent to American Gut from different regions of the same stool sample had different levels of bacteria. Sample one, had 64 percent Firmicutes, while sample two had 76 percent, Lieberman says. She also notes variability in the levels of both Lactobacillus and Prevetolla .

"Some experts I spoke to at the recent microbiome meeting were not surprised that I found intra-stool variability. They told me that it is obvious that we cannot learn much from a single sample…," she says. "Our microbiome, after all, responds to what we eat — and what I ate for breakfast is different than what I ate for dinner."