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Longitudinal analysis of microbial interaction between humans and the indoor environment

Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 1048-1052
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254529

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Signature microbes follow you from house to house

Householders share more than habitation; they also share inhabitants. In a diverse sample of U.S. homes, Lax et al. found that people and animals sharing homes shared their microbial communities (microbiota) too, probably because of skin shedding and hand and foot contamination. When families moved, their microbiological “aura” followed. If one person left the home even for a few days, their contribution to the microbiome diminished. These findings have implications not only for household identity and composition, but also for indicators of the members' health and well-being.

Science, this issue p. 1048

Abstract

The bacteria that colonize humans and our built environments have the potential to influence our health. Microbial communities associated with seven families and their homes over 6 weeks were assessed, including three families that moved their home. Microbial communities differed substantially among homes, and the home microbiome was largely sourced from humans. The microbiota in each home were identifiable by family. Network analysis identified humans as the primary bacterial vector, and a Bayesian method significantly matched individuals to their dwellings. Draft genomes of potential human pathogens observed on a kitchen counter could be matched to the hands of occupants. After a house move, the microbial community in the new house rapidly converged on the microbial community of the occupants’ former house, suggesting rapid colonization by the family’s microbiota.

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