The cellular portion of blood contains red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs) and platelets. The RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs ; the WBCs help to fight infection; and platelets are parts of cells that the body uses for clotting. All blood cells are produced in the bone marrow . As children, most of our bones produce blood. As we age this gradually diminishes to just the bones of the spine (vertebrae), breastbone (sternum), ribs, pelvis and small parts of the upper arm and leg. Bone marrow that actively produces blood cells is called red marrow, and bone marrow that no longer produces blood cells is called yellow marrow. The process by which the body produces blood is called hematopoiesis . All blood cells (RBCs, WBCs and platelets) come from the same type of cell, called the pluripotential hematopoietic stem cell . This group of cells has the potential to form any of the different types of blood cells and also to reproduce itself. This cell then forms committed stem cells that will form specific types of blood cells.
How you can help
Because so little is known about the gut microbiota in general — the projects performed to date, although extremely valuable, have generally focused on very carefully chosen groups of people being studied for specific purposes (they reflect our diversity to about the same extent that Congress does…). We want real diversity–your diversity–be it in terms of ethnicity, diet, lifestyle, how often you wash, or something else! And, because this is a crowdfunded project, we also need your financial support. While paying for studies of microbes has become cheaper, money that pays for the time of scientists, reagents and, and you aren’t going to believe this, a robot (more on the robot later). So, you might be asking yourself, if you contribute to see what lives in you what do you get in return? Like other crowdfunded projects, American Gut will give you rewards to say thank you for your support. You will get a list of the dominant microbes in your gut, and several visualizations showing how they compare to the population at large (charts showing the dominant kinds of microbes along with what they are most associated with, and an overall view of the kinds of possible microbial configurations and how they compare to other people, including the Human Microbiome Project). Like the Genographic project, we will also include some visualizations showing where else on earth similar microbes have been found, using the Earth Microbiome Project data.