Why scientists are preserving gut bacteria from around the world: RAZOR full episode
Trillions of microorganisms live in your digestive tract - and some of them are essential to maintaining your health. These include bacteria, fungi and other microbes that can influence everything from the immune system to metabolism.
But scientists are now warning that the effects of rapid urbanization, industrialization and environmental changes are threatening the diversity of the microbiota.
RAZOR's Emma Keeling travels to Switzerland to meet the scientists behind the Microbiota Vault, which is collecting fecal samples from diverse communities across the world - from Laos to Ethiopia - hoping to store these microbes before they're permanently lost.
The project was inspired by the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, which has secured more than a million seed samples in the Arctic.
Just like the Global Seed Vault's goal to preserve crop diversity, the Microbiota Vault hopes to hold a permanent back-up of microbiota, and potentially even revive them to treat diseases in the future.