Great article by Jonathon Keats for Discover.
Not that researchers are waiting until the vault is open to collect and preserve threatened gut microbes. In addition to ongoing collection efforts by Knight and Dominguez-Bello, the MIT-based Global Microbiome Conservancy is leading a large-scale initiative to collect stool samples and store gut microbiomes of people in developing countries throughout Africa, Asia, South America, the Arctic and Oceana. They’ve already banked more than 11,000 strains of bacteria and have uncovered 60 previously unknown genera.
“We expect close collaboration between the two groups,” says Knight. “The microbiome vault is a permanent archive, and the Global Microbiome Conservancy is a working collection.” In other words, the conservancy will be an accumulator and facilitator of research on what the bugs do, while the vault ensures that viable microbes are always available if and when their function is understood.