A new technique using DNA barcoding has been developed to identify the plant matter in human feces. Researchers have created a genetic marker for plant-based foods that can be detected in poop. By analyzing the DNA markers in feces, researchers can determine what foods were consumed and even the relative amounts of certain food species. They found that the diversity of plant DNA found in feces differs according to a person’s diet, age, and household income. The researchers used a reference database of dietary plants to connect the detected DNA markers to specific plant sources. The marker was able to distinguish 83% of major crop families. The researchers are now working to add more crops to their database. They also plan to track meat intake using this technique. The DNA barcoding method has been tested on fecal samples from individuals in weight loss interventions and studies of fiber supplementation. It has also been applied to a large adolescent cohort with diverse backgrounds, revealing insights about their diet. This technique can reconstruct dietary data for past studies and has the potential to improve clinical trials, nutrition studies, and our understanding of human nutrition. The researchers believe this method can help gather data on what people eat worldwide and can be extended to studies of disease and monitoring food biodiversity. Funding for this research came from various sources.
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