Workshop report: Toward the development of a human whole stool reference material for metabolomic and metagenomic gut microbiome measurements

Rupasri Mandal, Raul Cano, Cindy D Davis, David Hayashi, Scott A Jackson, Christina M Jones, Johanna W Lampe, Marie E Latulippe, Nancy J Lin, Katrice A Lippa, Paulina Piotrowski, Sandra M Da Silva, Kelly S Swanson, David S Wishart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: To date, there has been little effort to develop standards for metabolome-based gut microbiome measurements despite the significant efforts toward standard development for DNA-based microbiome measurements.

OBJECTIVES: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), The BioCollective (TBC), and the North America Branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI North America) are collaborating to extend NIST's efforts to develop a Human Whole Stool Reference Material for the purpose of method harmonization and eventual quality control.

METHODS: The reference material will be rationally designed for adequate quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) for underlying measurements in the study of the impact of diet and nutrition on functional aspects of the host gut microbiome and relationships of those functions to health. To identify which metabolites deserve priority in their value assignment, NIST, TBC, and ILSI North America jointly conducted a workshop on September 12, 2019 at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The objective of the workshop was to identify metabolites for which evidence indicates relevance to health and disease and to decide on the appropriate course of action to develop a fit-for-purpose reference material.

RESULTS: This document represents the consensus opinions of workshop participants and co-authors of this manuscript, and provides additional supporting information. In addition to developing general criteria for metabolite selection and a preliminary list of proposed metabolites, this paper describes some of the strengths and limitations of this initiative given the current state of microbiome research.

CONCLUSIONS: Given the rapidly evolving nature of gut microbiome science and the current state of knowledge, an RM (as opposed to a CRM) measured for multiple metabolites is appropriate at this stage. As the science evolves, the RM can evolve to match the needs of the research community. Ultimately, the stool RM may exist in sequential versions. Beneficial to this evolution will be a clear line of communication between NIST and the stakeholder community to ensure alignment with current scientific understanding and community needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119
Pages (from-to)119
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 8 2020


  • Diet
  • Metabolites
  • Metabolomics
  • Metagenomics
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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