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Context and the human microbiome

  • Author(s): McDonald, D
  • Birmingham, A
  • Knight, R
  • et al.
Abstract

Human microbiome reference datasets provide epidemiological context for researchers, enabling them to uncover new insights into their own data through meta-analyses. In addition, large and comprehensive reference sets offer a means to develop or test hypotheses and can pave the way for addressing practical study design considerations such as sample size decisions. We discuss the importance of reference sets in human microbiome research, limitations of existing resources, technical challenges to employing reference sets, examples of their usage, and contributions of the American Gut Project to the development of a comprehensive reference set. Through engaging the general public, the American Gut Project aims to address many of the issues present in existing reference resources, characterizing health and disease, lifestyle, and dietary choices of the participants while extending its efforts globally through international collaborations.

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