Gut Check- Send Off Your Own Stool Sample for Analysis?

I thought I had seen it all...but today I realized I have certainly not.  Thanks to companies American Gut Project and uBiome you can now send off your own stool sample for microbial analysis.

Why might you want to send off your own poop for professional review?  For citizen scientific research of course.  Researchers from these two projects, American Gut and uBiome, are encouraging the general public to mail in their own excrement, at a charge of $69, to analyze the microbes living in their gut.  Yes, that's right.  For less than 100 bucks you too can know just which creepy crawlies infest your bowels.

The gut's microbial contents vary depending on diet and genetics.  Researchers in this grassroots movement hope to capitalize on people's curiosity about their own bodies to fund their project as well as obtain large numbers of samples for experimentation.  The study will analyze factors such as diet and environment on the types of microbes residing in the human body.  Ultimately, researchers hope to answer questions like "Which combinations of bacteria keep us the most healthy?" and "Which microbes encourage problems like diabetes and obesity?".

The American Gut Project aims to enroll 1,000 participants while uBiome hopes to collect 2,000 stool samples.  Oh, and both projects accept pet feces as well- to determine if humans and animals living in the same environment share microbial make-ups. 

Christmas gift anyone...