Global Microbiome Conservancy
Biodiversity is disappearing rapidly at a global scale. These widespread losses include a critical but often overlooked ecosystem: the microbial biodiversity of the human gut. A rapidly growing body of literature now shows that this complex microbial community – the gut ‘microbiome’ – is critical to metabolism, immunity, and health. Imbalances in this community, including lack of early exposure to important microbes (the ‘hygiene hypothesis’), have been linked to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
The human gut microbiome is being profoundly disrupted by the widespread adoption of industrialized diets, lifestyles, and excessive use of antibiotics. As the global population increasingly shifts to urban centers, this critical biodiversity is at risk of being lost forever. Because indigenous communities maintain the richest microbiome biodiversity and are the most vulnerable to these lifestyle changes, they have the most to lose.
Our Core Principles
We are collecting gut microbiome samples from isolated, non-industrialized populations around the world, to culture and study this essential biodiversity and to preserve it in a living “seed bank” as a longterm safeguard against future extinctions.
We are focusing on historically underrepresented populations, prioritizing indigenous peoples, to promote equitable benefit from scientific and medical advances. Individual donors retain ownership of their biobanked gut bacteria.
We aim to develop in-country, cutting-edge scientific expertise and capabilities in microbiome science, through training, technical and material support, and targeted funding.
The microbiome seed bank is open-access to the scientific community for non-profit microbiome research. In addition, we will build and actively support a global research ecosystem to advance human health worldwide.