The Athlete Microbiome Project: The Search for the Golden Microbiome

Sept. 29, 2016

Lauren Petersen, PhD, is a postdoctoral associate working for Dr. George Weinstock and investigating the microbiome. Our knowledge of the 100 trillion microorganisms that inhabit the human body is still very limited, but the advent of next-generation sequencing technology has allowed researchers to start understanding what kind of microorganisms inhabit the human body and identifying the types of genes these organisms carry. As part of the NIH-funded Human Microbiome Project, her lab is focused on developing and applying the latest technologies to characterize the microbiome and its impact on human health. One of her main projects is metatranscriptomic analysis whereby they are attempting to characterize gene expression of an entire community from human samples such as stool and saliva. Gaining information on what signals or environmental factors can trigger changes in global gene expression of an entire microbial community may provide us with the tools to better treat certain types of diseases in humans.

Lauren is currently working on the Athlete Microbiome Project. By collecting stool and saliva samples from a cohort of highly fit professional cyclists, she will make an attempt to understand how their microbiomes may differ from those of the general population. The goal is to characterize the species present, the genes they carry, and how gene expression is modulated in athletes who push their bodies to the limit.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Lauren Petersen:

[00:00:28] George Weinstock, PhD.

[00:01:27] Jeremy Powers interview.

[00:01:43] Jeff Kendall-Weed.

[00:02:15] Why care about the gut microbiome?

[00:03:32] Metabolic functions.

[00:03:51] NIH Human Microbiome Project.

[00:04:39] Phase II longitudinal study.

[00:06:01] Microbial diversity.

[00:07:33] Lyme and antibiotics.

[00:08:15] Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

[00:09:35] Gordon conferences - Rob Knight.

[00:10:27] American Gut Project.

[00:10:48] Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes.

[00:11:05] Enterobacteriaceae.

[00:11:59] Fecal transplant.

[00:13:16] Screening donors.

[00:13:32] DIY.

[00:13:52] C. diff.

[00:14:14] Transplants started in the 50s.

[00:14:47] IBS.

[00:16:12] Healthy donor.

[00:17:43] Within a month, Lauren was feeling a lot better.

[00:18:13] Instantaneous improvement on the bike.

[00:19:22] No more stomach issues, "more energy than I knew what to do with".

[00:19:54] Retest data showed perfect match with donor.

[00:20:56] Sequencing large vs. small intestinal microbes.

[00:21:28] FDA has no idea what to do.

[00:23:02] Strategies for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.

[00:23:31] Whole foods, lots of fruit and vegetables.

[00:23:48] No gels.

[00:24:26] Athlete Microbiome Project.

[00:26:34] Microbiome doping?

[00:27:05] Ruminococcus - starch digester.

[00:28:26] Enterotype - the dominate species in the gut.

[00:28:56] Prevotella.

[00:30:14] Teasing apart the cause and the effect.

[00:32:28] Endotoxins released during intense exercise.

[00:32:49] 25 participants at the time of recording, I'm number 26!

[00:33:29] Matching cohort of healthy controls.

[00:34:28] Ibis World Cup racer.

[00:35:01] uBiome.

[00:35:08] My app.

[00:35:54] The problem with 16S sequencing.

[00:36:16] Missing bifidobacteria.

[00:37:05] A combination of methods is required for accurate testing.

[00:38:30] New commercially available test?

[00:39:11] Probiotic quality.

[00:40:04] Testing probiotics.

[00:41:37] Bifido doesn't like oxygen (or your stomach).

[00:42:02] Lactobacillus is more resilient.

[00:42:50] Bifido love fructooligosaccharides.

[00:43:36] Lack of association with dietary restrictions.

[00:44:53] Feed your microbiome!

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