Prof, 'Synthetic Poop' Make Headlines

January 10, 2013 - In the News

Research by Prof. Emma Allen-Vercoe, Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been making headlines around the globe this week. Allen-Vercoe was part of a Canadian research team that published a new study Wednesday on how a synthetic “poop” developed at the University of Guelph can cure nasty gastrointestinal infections caused by Clostridium difficile, a toxin-producing bacterium.

Reports about the research have aired on numerous television and radio stations, and articles have appeared in National Geographic online, the Globe and Mail, New Scientist, Calgary Herald, Vancouver Sun,, and Science Daily, among others.

Allen-Vercoe made the super-probiotic from purified intestinal bacterial cultures grown in “Robo-gut” equipment in a Guelph laboratory that mimics the environment of the large intestine. On Jan. 5, the Toronto Star ran an article about Allen-Vercoe and the "robo-gut" facility at U of G.

The story, which appeared on the front page of the Weekend section, focuses on Allen-Vercoe's work involving the “robo-gut,” including the synthetic stool. The robo-gut allows Allen-Vercoe and other researchers to learn more about the 1,000 bacterial species that inhabit a person’s “inner ecosystem” from mouth to bowel. The robo-gut grows the complex ecosystems of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms found in the human intestines. It also produces waste full of microbes never before grown in a lab.

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