Biology Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

An Example of Microbiology Crowdfunding: The Skin Deep MIcrobiome Project

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2015 ASM Florida Branch Meeting, Cocoa Beach, Florida, October 9-11, 2015

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Crowdfunding has been lauded as one alternative to involve the lay public in science. Last year our laboratory launched this modest citizen science project on Indiegogo,com. The primary goals of the project were 1) Provide donors a detailed, personal profile of their bacterial skin microbiome skin (either retroauricle crease (ear) or antecubital fossa (elbow); 2) Obtain a sufficient number of samples so that trends and patterns of skin microbiomes based on the 16S rRNA V4 region may be discernible and statistically tested; and 3) Utilize this project as an advanced educational training platform for modern microbiome sequence analyses. Besides funding consumable reagents, portions of the donations helped support the training of students to prepare samples, run the Illumina MiSeq instrument and perform subsequent bioinformatics analysis at Nova Southeastern University’s Molecular Microbiology and Genetics Laboratory. Despite a good initial response, the project fell short of the overall fundraising goal. All participants went through a standard university IRB protocol were sent their profiles. Although final results for the comprehensive study are still being evaluated, preliminary ear profiles showed expected abundances in decreasing order: Propionibacteriaceae > Staphylococcaceae > Corynebacteriaceae. Elbow samples had Staphylococcaceae as most abundant. Sequence generation reached over 60,000 Q30 reads for some samples. Technical difficulties included problematic DNA extractions due to low biomass on swab samples. Nonetheless, this project laid groundwork for consequent collaborative proposals to use skin microbiomes as potential new tools in human forensics programs (see Time Magazine, Aug 24, 2015). The project was endorsed by several groups, such as FLASM, AGA and MoBio Inc. We continue to offer skin microbiome profiles upon request through

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