STATES CHRONICLE – Regardless of how clean we think we are, science says we’re nowhere near being right. This is mostly because of our individual microbiomes or microbial signatures. These are colonies of microbes and bacteria living on our bodies, feeding off of the oils and sweat we eliminate and offering us a small measure of protection against the environment in return.
But while the fact that every single person in the world has their specific microbiome that only gets combined with another’s after years spent together, researchers didn’t think of how large a scale these microbes can affect. Of course, they are common throughout entire regions, with each major area having its own specific microbiome, but how large a region are we talking about?
Well, according to a study performed by researchers from the Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, every city has its own unique microbe signature. And apparently they aren’t really dependent on the microbial signatures of the individuals roaming around the city, or even in the same building.
For the experiment, the scientific team tracked microbial communities in several office buildings in three cities for more than a year. The cities involved in the study were Flagstaff, Toronto, and San Diego, as the researchers periodically collected samples from three plates located in office buildings around the city.
The plates were located on the walls, the ceiling, and the floor, and each sampling plate contained a combination of carpet, ceiling tile, and drywall. The levels of humidity, light, and other environmental factors were monitored via sensors on the plates, and the collection was performed every four to six weeks.
Using genetic sequencing technology to process the samples, the team looked at the fungal and bacterial communities collected there and determined that the microbial communities in each city remained pretty much stable. This was particularly interesting because of a collection of factors.
First of all, with the office buildings varying in size, ventilation, usage patterns, and number of employees, the microbial signatures should have varied between offices in the same city. But seeing as they didn’t, the scientists now believe that they are more related to geography than any individual features of the offices.
Second of all, as the team also collected microbiome samples from the employees working in the office building, each with their own specific microbiomes, they determined that they only had minimal effect on the collected samples. This again suggested that geography has pretty much the biggest impact on the city’s microbial signature.
Last but not least, more studies have to be performed in order to determine what exactly generates the intensity of the microbiomes in different cities. In this case, the team found out that Flagstaff offices had far more diverse and richer microbial signatures than the other cities, but they are unsure as to why that is.
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