Microorganisms Make a House a Home?

The fungal and bacterial communities in household dust can reveal some details about a building’s inhabitants.

By | August 26, 2015

FLICKR, KATE TER HAAR

The largest survey of the microorganisms living in houses to date shows that small samples of household dust can carry a lot of information. Researchers used genetic sequencing and microscopy to detail the composition of bacterial and fungal communities in dust samples from around 1,200 households across the U.S. The results were published today (August 26) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“We have known for a long time that microbes live in our homes,” study coauthor Noah Fierer, a biologist at the University of Colorado, told BBC News. “What we are doing is now is old-fashioned science, to see how they vary across space.”

These initial findings of the citizen science project called The Wild Life of Our Homes indicate that the makeup of the microorganisms in dust is largely determined by a home’s geographic location and its inhabitants.

“The best predictor of what types of fungi are in your home is where your home is located,” Fierer told BBC News.

Bacteria, on the other hand, came mainly from those living in the house, including pets and pests. The authors reported that they could predict whether a house had a canine inhabitant with 92 percent accuracy based on bacterial data alone.

Two types of skin-dwelling and one type of fecal-associated bacteria were more frequently found in homes in which more males than females lived, whereas a vaginal-resident bacterial group was found more often in homes with more females than males, according to Discovery News.

“This is a powerful study,” Rachel Adams, a microbial ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the work, told Science.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. 2017 Top 10 Innovations
    Features 2017 Top 10 Innovations

    From single-cell analysis to whole-genome sequencing, this year’s best new products shine on many levels.

  2. Thousands of Mutations Accumulate in the Human Brain Over a Lifetime
  3. Antiviral Immunotherapy Comes of Age
    News Analysis Antiviral Immunotherapy Comes of Age

    T-cell therapies are not just for cancer. Researchers are also advancing immunotherapy methods to protect bone marrow transplant patients from viral infections. 

  4. Search for Life on the Red Planet
FreeShip