Cities have microbial signatures, too –

6 months ago Comments Off on Cities have microbial signatures, too –

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., April 19 (UPI) — It seems everything and everyone has a microbial signature these days. Not wanting to be left out, cities decided to hop on the bandwagon.

Scientists at Northern Arizona University Flagstaff say cities have individual microbial signatures. They know this because they tracked microbial communities for more than year in several offices in three different cities — Flagstaff, San Diego and Toronto.

Microbes were regularly sampled from three installed plates, located on the floor, ceiling and wall. Each sampling plate featured a combination of painted drywall, ceiling tile and carpet. Sensors on the plates tracked changing light levels, humidity and other environmental factors.

Every four to six weeks, scientists used genetic sequencing technology to process the sampling places — revealing the bacterial and fungal communities that had collected there.

Though the periodic sampling disrupted the accumulation of microbes in each office setting, researchers say their findings show the microbial communities in each city remained relatively stable.

“This was especially interesting because even within each city, the offices we studied differed from each other in terms of size, usage patterns and ventilation systems,” J. Gregory Caporaso, an assistant professor of biological sciences, explained in a news release, “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.”

The findings suggest offices in Flagstaff host richer, more diverse microbial communities than offices in San Diego or Toronto, but scientists aren’t sure why.

Caporaso and his colleagues also collected a variety of microbial samples from people working in the offices and collecting samples to determine to what extant humans influenced the microbial samples. Their analysis suggests humans contributed only a small percentage of the organisms found in the samples. The majority of bacterial and fungal organisms were sourced from the environment.

The new research was published in the journal mSystems.

Cities have microbial signatures, too –