Teams participating in the MBQC signed up to provide one or more assessment modules. Only two modules were evaluated in the MBQC-baseline phase, although many more for sample acquisition, extraction, and so forth will be tested during future scale-up of the project. Each module is designed to interchangeably evaluate one step in a typical human microbiome study. Modules have specifically defined inputs and outputs, so as to be "plug and play" with each other, but are otherwise black boxes - participants choose (and document) how their labs perform each step. All interactions between modules are brokered by the MBQC to ensure that transfers are blinded and that the space of potential sources of variation is well-explored.
The MBQC-baseline timeline took place over: