Pokébiome: A Call for Research Participants

Professor Bonsai is looking for Pokémon trainers to participate in a new study on the Pokémon microbiome or the Pokébiome. The study is open to trainers who are Level 5 or above and preference will be given to trainers who have caught a larger variety of Pokémon.

A tenure-hopeful professor in pokélogy at a large well-known research lab, Prof. Bonsai is an outspoken proponent of trapping and releasing Pokémon humanely vs. many of his colleagues who prefer to keep Pokémon under study in small sphere like contraptions

The recent global discovery of Pokémon, adorable 2D animals, by the Nintendo Co., Ltd. may be the most important scientific finding of the century.  Millions of Pokémon trainers have sprung up overnight and have begun rapidly sampling Pokémon from a multitude of geographic locations allowing for never before possible large scale citizen science opportunities. Prof. Bonsai hopes to swab and characterize the microbiomes of all 151 Pokémon that have been discovered (as well as any additional Pokémon that may be found in the future) and their tiny-homes (aka Pokéballs). He hopes that this research will help us better understand Pokémon disease and health as well as possibly revolutionize the way we store and transport our 2D friends.

A Pokémon, belonging to trainer Amy Swabem, appears in the lab and is ready to be sampled for Pokébiome analysis.

Additionally, Prof. Bonsai is hoping that he can utilize a 2012 study, A Phylogeny and Evolutionary History of the Pokémon,  from the Annals of Improbable Research to study the co-evolution of microbes with their Pokémon hosts before, after and during their evolutions.

Above you can see a “mushroom Pokémon”. Prof. Bonsai is extremely interested to know if this Pokémon is a true fungi or an oomycete and whether or not it has other species of fungi associated with it.

Unfortunately, this study is currently limited to Pokémon that are solid (e.g. no ghost Pokémon) and those that are not flammable (e.g. no fire types) due to sampling issues. Prof. Bonsai and his team are currently testing out alternative sampling methods and hope that these Pokémon will be able to be included soon. If you are interested in participating please contact Prof. Bonsai via mail using a flying-type Pokémon.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

2 thoughts on “Pokébiome: A Call for Research Participants”

  1. His research lab must be a bit old-school. I’ve already been doing phylogenetic analyses of the microbiota of fire-types using flame-retardant materials. I’ve also begun some sequencing of the fire-types themselves. Interestingly, while most of the group is polyphyletic, there are a few intriguing monophyletic groups in there.


  2. Dear Professor Bonsai,
    I am very interested in Pokemon communication. Can you tell me if Pokemon use scent to communicate and if so whether you have been able to obtain any samples of their scent markings?
    Sincerely yours,
    Professor Kat Butt


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