Collection of biospecimens from parent-child dyads in a community garden-based nutrition intervention: protocol and feasibility

Amrik Singh Khalsa, Jonathan Burton, Michael T. Bailey, Jiangjiang Zhu, Kelly J. Kelleher, Ross M. Maltz, Brett R. Loman, Colleen K. Spees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Non-invasive human biospecimens, including stool, urine, and hair, are important in understanding the relationship between diet and changes in human physiologic processes that affect chronic disease outcomes. However, biospecimen collection can be difficult when collecting samples for research studies that occur away from a centralized location. We describe the protocol and feasibility in collecting stool, urine, and hair biospecimens from parents and their children at a remote location as a part of a summer community garden-based intervention. Methods: Stool, urine, and hair were collected as a part of the Summer Harvest Adventure (SHA) study, a randomized controlled, community garden-based intervention targeting children (ages 8–11 years) and their parents from low-resource neighborhoods. Biospecimens were collected from willing children and/or their parent/adult caregivers at baseline and post-intervention for evaluation of microbiome, metabolomics, and hair analyses among both intervention and control groups at a location distant from the academic laboratories conducting the analysis. The protocol used to assemble, deliver, collect, and process biospecimens are presented along with the frequencies with which specimens were successfully obtained. Results: One hundred forty six participants (73 parent-child dyads) were part of the larger SHA study and thus eligible to provide a biospecimen. A total of 126 participants, 115 participants, and 127 participants consented to provide their hair, stool and urine samples, respectively. Of the participants that consented to provide a sample, 44 children (69.8%) and 38 parents (60.3%) provided at least one hair sample, 27 children (48.2%) and 37 parents (62.7%) provided at least one stool sample, and 36 children (57.1%) and 42 parents (65.6%) provided at least one urine sample. Sample collection at the offsite location, transport, and handling at the academic center were successful and all biospecimens were deemed adequate for analyses. DNA and metabolomics yield on a subset of stool samples obtained provided excellent results in terms of an abundance of species and metabolities, as would be predicted. Urine and hair analyses are underway. Conclusion: Our work is one of the first to describe the feasibility of collecting human biospecimens, specifically stool, urine, and hair, from both parents and their children from low-resourced neighborhoods in a non-traditional garden research setting. Future work will report findings related to mechanisms between diet, microbiome, metabolites, and clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number141
JournalBMC Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Community-based research
  • Feasibility
  • Hair collection
  • Stool collection
  • Urine collection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Collection of biospecimens from parent-child dyads in a community garden-based nutrition intervention: protocol and feasibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this