Every City Has Its Own Set Of Microbes, Study Reveals

First Posted: Apr 21, 2016 06:05 AM EDT

It is a known fact that every city has its own set of distinguished characteristics; however, a new report suggests that each of them also has a distinct microbial community. Researchers observed microbes gathered over the duration of a year from offices based in three different cities, namely, Toronto, San Diego and Flagstaff in Arizona.

study published in the journal mSystems, the microbes brought under the scanner included microscopic fungi, viruses and bacteria. Incidentally, the Flagstaff office had richer microbial communities compared to those in Toronto or San Diego. However, the cause for the difference has still not been discovered.

According to the researchers, it was especially interesting to note that each of the three cities had its own unique and separate set of microbial communities. "Even within each city, the offices we studied differed from each other in terms of size, usage patterns and ventilation systems, suggesting that geography is more important than any of these features in driving the bacterial community composition of the offices within the ranges that we studied," said J. Gregory Caporaso, assistant director at Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics (MGGen) at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Caporaso also thinks future research efforts will have a further impact on the study, due to a better comprehension of the microbiology of the built environment and regular checks of microbial communities to observe changes that may have an effect on human health.

Apart from this, the researchers also discovered that one of the major sources of office microbes happens to be the human skin. Furthermore, office floors were found to have more microbes than ceilings and walls, possibly because of microbes being carried through shoes. The researchers also found that human skin is a major source of office microbes and that office floors have more microbes than walls or ceilings, likely due to materials carried in on workers' shoes, based on a report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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