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Establishment of a repository for human microbiome conservation

About the project

In recent decades, a dramatic increase in metabolic, immunological, and cognitive diseases has been reported globally, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and autism, among others.

This increase was first observed in industrialized countries and, more recently, in developing countries. For years it has been speculated whether these diseases have an independent origin or if there is some factor common to all of them. Several experts now consider that an important element in the manifestation of these pathologies is the imbalance of the human microbiota, that has occurred due to the rapid industrialization presented in recent decades. These changes imply the loss of an ancestral microbial diversity, with which we have coexisted for millions of years of human evolution.

The human microbiota (and the entire collection of its genomes, the microbiome) is the set of bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that reside in and on the human body. They influence several essential physiological processes of the host, including nutrition, development of the immune system, hormonal activity, intestinal permeability, and the production of neurotransmitters.

Generation to generation, the microbiome is transmitted from the mother to the newborn. The microorganisms that colonize humans in their first days of life play a crucial role in guiding the development of immunological, metabolic, and neurological functions in different animal models. Similar mechanisms have been seen in humans. These studies have also shown cause-and-effect relationships between disturbances of the microbiome early in life and the later development of diseases such as obesity, juvenile diabetes, and asthma.

Today, almost 50% of the world’s population lives in cities and the number is expected to increase in the coming decades. The extensive network of microbes that disappear in urbanized societies are considered to be those required to maintain good health and prevent metabolic, immune, and cognitive diseases. Currently there are a series of health problems related to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, which is one of the risk factors for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and some types of cancer. If the microbiome degradation in these more urbanized populations increases susceptibility to disease, this will further harm our countries’ health systems and the economy for years to come.

Although urbanization brings benefits in terms of access to various services, it also has consequences on people’s behavior and culture, with the consequent impact on their health and microbiome. In areas of greater urbanization, people has reduced contact with the environment, and with it,  the diversity of the human microbiota decreases.



Collect human microbiome samples for characterization and conservation.

Specific aims

  • To collect samples of the human microbiome in communities that have different degrees of contact.
  • To characterize the samples collected with the health status of the individuals from whom the collections will be made, information will be taken on the clinical status of the participants and on their diet.
  • To transfer the sample in suitable conditions for processing.


Institutions involved