Thursday 11 January 2018

Microbial fingerprints

Over Christmas, I was given the spare half of a 2for1 sub to the New York Times, this is grrrreat because in my part of the blogosphere, the source is often either the NYT or WaPo the Washington Post. WaPo has closed it's free-access doors recently, so I need one USA source for following things up. Or indeed getting at some original stories that aren't yet being rechurned on the blogosphere. For the last 10 years, I've been really interested in the microbiome - the community of microbes which we tote around with us all the time and largely take for granted.  Then I came across a NYT quiz to see what microbiologists can/could tell about me if they swabbed some of my orifices and characterised the bacteria found there. Can they tell:
  1. my biological sex?
  2. what I had for breakfast?
  3. if I have a pet?
  4. with whom I live?
  5. where I work?
  6. if I get migraines
  7. if I was at a crime scene?
The answers are: 1 Y 2 N 3 Y 4 Y 5 N 6 Y 7 N :era srewsna ehT. Mouse over. The bottom line is your local environment will charge your microbial flora, but it takes time to execute the change-over. Thus your workmates have much less effect than your housemates, with whom you likely share a bathroom, a floor (if you're a shoe-free house it matters), and meals. If you pet the dog, likewise. Even if you don't pet the dog, your human cohabitants probably do. Your diet defo has an effect too but it takes more than one breakfast to register a change.

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