Remember grade school and cooties? It appears that the mean children in school were right about people spreading invisible germs all over the place. A group of scientists decided to test the uniqueness of microbes in cities and discovered that each town has its own specific signature of invisible threats. And human skin and residue play an important part in the uniqueness of microbes in cities.
A team of researchers from the University of Northern Arizona decided to see if there are any patterns in the incidence of microbial lifeforms in various offices from three United States cities.
And it seems that the hypothesis on which they based their research was true. There are unique combinations of germs on the floors of office buildings from different cities, each bearing resemblance only to those from the same town.
Of course, the fact that each town has a different set of microbes lurking in the walls, floors, or ceilings of a building seems like a matter of common sense. Bacteria, fungi, protists, and archaebacteria develop differently in a town with a wet climate than in one that is known for its arid seasons.
But what about different towns with similar wheatear? The team lead by Gregory Caporaso, a microbiologist at the University of Northern Arizona, gathered samples from three distinct cities, each one with a diverse climate.
For the sake of diversity and for the fact that from a climate point of view, the towns were different, the researchers focused on San Diego, Toronto, and Flagstaff. The California, Canada, and respectively Arizona weather patterns are extremely different, so the chance of microbes being similar due to climate patterns was eliminated from the start.
The group of scientists placed special plates on the floor, walls, and ceilings of three office buildings in each town. Then they gathered samples over the course of one year and studied them with gene sequencing techniques.
The uniqueness of microbes in cities was apparent even from the beginning of the study. It seems that the most notable difference was between the three offices in Flagstaff than those in San Diego and Toronto.
Caporaso’s team is not sure why Flagstaff’s offices were more microbe-abundant than those in San Diego and Toronto.
What was even more interesting was the fact that the offices in the same town had very similar microbial compositions. It seems that the uniqueness of microbes in cities is given by its residents.
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