April 06, 2023

Blog Post

Forager’s New Frontier: Unlocking The Microbiome

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Today we announced our global strategic partnership with ADM – marking the beginning of Forager®'s examination of the complex and important relationship between plants and the gut microbiome. This is a monumental leap and expansion of Forager’s capabilities, opening up potential new gateways to restoring human health at scale.

Science now knows that not all foods are alike [1] and that dietary plants contain essential vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds that are powerful drivers to maintain health and fight disease. The “missing link” in understanding the relationship between diet and human health is the role that microbes play. When we consume plants, we also feed up to 100 trillion microbes [2] that live in our gut. It's incredible to think that there are approximately 2.5x more gut microbes than there are cells in the entire human body [3]. 

Zooming in on the molecular level, each of these individual microbes acts as little chemists: they break down food into their molecular components and transform them into bioactives that would not be accessible to our bodies otherwise. Imagine the difficulty in predicting the behavior of these microbial chemists when they connect with the vast, molecular makeup of the plants we consume. Every possible combination of plant and microbe interaction can result in an extraordinary number of outcomes for our biology. The possibilities are mind-blowing. 

This is where Forager can make sense of such a complex system. By rapidly decoding these dynamic relationships with A.I., we can unlock new insights and frameworks to understand how the gut translates our diet to proactively manage our health. This is why we’re so excited to launch Forager’s new frontier. 

As part of our entry into the gut microbiome, we’ve appointed Bethany Henrick, Ph.D, as VP of Microbiology to steer the growth of Brightseed’s microbiome capabilities. Dr. Henrick has a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences with a specialty in infection and immunity from McMaster University, Canada, and holds multiple patents on immune system modulation. She has also served as the principal investigator for multiple projects and publications on the role of the microbiome and early composition to advance infant health. We’re delighted to welcome Bethany to the team!

Building Brightseed as the bioactives company has been an incredibly humbling journey – from Forager’s first discovery to our strategic partnerships and bioactive ingredients we offer today. We look forward to the road ahead, and to the impact our work will one day have on the health of people across the globe. 

- Jim Flatt, Sofia Elizondo and Lee Chae


1. Feinman, R. D., & Fine, E. J. (2004, July 28). "A calorie is a calorie" violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. BioMed Central. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-3-9

2. Ursell, L. K., Metcalf, J. L., Parfrey, L. W., & Knight, R. (2012, August). Defining the human microbiome. Nutrition reviews. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3426293/

3. Roy, A. L., & Conroy, R. S. (2018, August 1). Toward mapping the human body at a cellular resolution. Molecular biology of the cell. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085824/


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