The Science of Farts Event as iCalendar

13 June 2018

12:30 - 1:30pm

Venue: Liggins Institute – Room 505-003

Location: 85 Park Road, Grafton, Auckland

Cost: Free

Contact email:

The Science of Farts: role of symbiotic fungi in the metabolism of short chain fatty acids in the human gut.

Speakers: Dr Liz McKenzie, Research Fellow and Magda Rosin, MHSc student - Liggins Institute

About the talk:

Gut dysbiosis is associated with many chronic metabolic diseases. In order to prevent gut dysbiosis, we first need to understand what a healthy human gut is. Methyl isobutyl ketone is a volatile organic compound found in abundance with healthy human faeces. However, despite being a well-known ‘problem odour’ in the field of wastewater treatment, the metabolic origin of methyl isobutyl ketone has not been described. In food science, methyl ketones are known as fungally-derived metabolites of short-chain fatty acids, responsible for the distinctive aroma of many cheese varieties. It has been postulated that similar metabolic processes occur in the human gut, but there is doubt as to whether fungi are actively involved. To determine the possible role of faecal fungi in the production of methyl ketones, we are culturing healthy human faeces under conditions analogous to the human gut, in order to test their ability to metabolise short chain fatty acids into methyl ketones. A summary of our results thus far will be presented, along with future plans.

About the speakers:

Dr Liz McKenzie

Dr Liz McKenzie did her Masters on the microbiogeochemistry of hot spring bacteria and her PhD on clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. She worked in the Life in Extreme Environments program at Portland State University, USA and at  Forensic & Industrial Science Ltd in NZ. While finishing her PhD, she worked at the Centre for Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics, School of Biological Sciences, UoA. In 2015 she began a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Liggins Institute where she worked on isolating biomarkers associated with pregnancy complications. Her current research interests include use of volatile biomarkers as diagnostic and investigative tools, the impact of volatile toxicants on human health, and human symbiotic fungi - the mycobiome.

Magda Rosin

Magda Rosin is in her final year of the Master of Health Sciences in Nutrition and Dietetics programme at the University of Auckland. Her academic interests include the impact of dietary food choices on the health outcomes and wellbeing of individuals and populations. Magda is currently working alongside Dr Elizabeth McKenzie at the Liggins Institute towards completion of her Master’s Thesis project focusing on gut fungi and their role in fatty acid metabolism