Opportunity: Spit for science

Professor Stuart Dashper from the Melbourne Dental School is a co-researcher for the collaborative Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study currently being featured as part of Melbourne Museum's Gut Feelings exhibition. The study involves collecting saliva donated by visitors for analysis by researchers.

Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study / Picture: Melbourne Museum (Twitter)

About the Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study

Professor Dashper describes the study and its potential significance in Victoria, Australia and beyond:

"The Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study is focused around a large Citizen Science outreach project, spinning off a Museum Victoria exhibition, that will result in the determination of the oral microbiome of many Melbournians."

This will enable associations between the bacterial composition of the oral microbiome and lifestyle determinants and is probably the first type of study on this scale conducted in the world. The project has the potential to generate a lot of media around oral health and disease as well as broader topics on how humans and their bacteria interact. It will also generate more discussion on the role of the microbiome in human (oral) health."

The project is funded by the University of Melbourne with contributions from the:

The project is supported by:

Find out more about the Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study

Description from Melbourne Museum

Having a rich and diverse community of microbes is good for us, but how do our lifestyles affect this mix? Does who we live with influence our microbial richness? Eating well and time in nature might be beneficial for obtaining a diverse microbiome, but what about owning a pet? Or drinking tea vs coffee? Or even where we live?

To investigate these questions and more we are creating a digital microbe map of Victoria, and taking a sample from one end of the gut, the mouth. The living microbe map at the Gut Feelings exhibition is a world-first research project that will sample, analyse and map saliva donated by 1000 visitors, to show how, or indeed if, our microbes reflect our daily lives.

Here, microbes in saliva donated by visitors are processed and analysed by the Doherty Institute and the University of Melbourne for research. Throughout the project, Melbourne Museum will use the information to create a map installation within the exhibition, showcasing Victoria's microbiome diversity growing with new data collected each month.

So, can you spit for science?

If you would like to assist in this research, drop by the pop-up research station in front of the Gut Feelings exhibition and submit a sample of your saliva on one of the following dates:

August 2019 September 2019
  • Sat 10 Aug
  • Sun 11 Aug
  • Fri 16 Aug
  • Sat 17 Aug
  • Sun 18 Aug
  • Tue 24 Sep
  • Wed 25 Sep
  • Thu 26 Sep
  • Fri 27 Sep


Visit Gut Feelings

Exhibition dates:

  • Gut Feelings is open daily from 10am-5pm (until 2 February 2020)


  • Mind and Body Gallery, Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053


  • Included with museum entry ($0-$15)