Every city has its own character, and new research suggests that could even extend to a municipalities microbial communities.
Researchers analyzed microbes collected over one year from three office in each of three places: Flagstaff, Arizona, San Diego and Toronto. Microbes are bacteria, viruses and fungi that are too small to see without a microscope.
The Flagstaff office had richer microbial communities than those in San Diego or Toronto, which were more similar. But, the reasons for those differences are unknown, according to the study published April 12 in the journal mSystems.
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.
Study senior author J. Gregory Caporaso, assistant director of the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University, said in a journal news release that the discovery that each city had unique microbial communities was “especially interesting.”
“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,” he said.
“As we continue to expand our understanding of the microbiology of the built environment, possibly including routine monitoring of microbial communities to track changes that may impact human health, our results will help inform future research efforts,” Caporaso said.
This is true of the microbiome of your digestive tract as well. Research indicates that the microbial makeup of our gut is determined by the food we eat, our genetics, and where we were raised.
Based on this study, it may also include where we work. Microbiology is changing faster than almost any other branch of science. We have been asked to think of ourselves as a collective of millions of organisms of which we are just the largest.
With the recent popularity of probiotics, it begs the question – which probiotic is right for me? The truth is you have no clue yet many of you take a probiotic daily.
I have a few clues to go by when recommending a probiotic. First, I know that all probiotics, even if the culture is dead (80% of commercially available probiotics are not viable), will stimulate an immune response from the GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue). If your IgA is low, this may be favorable, if its high is could be disastrous.
Second, I know that L. acidophilus is good for most but not all people. Third, if a harmful bacteria has been identified, like C. difficile, then I know the specific probiotic to treat it.
Finally, I can use functional neurology to test various probiotics to see which one(s) might be better tolerated by the body.
So you can see my hesitation in recommending probiotics. I error on the side of caution and only recommend them short term (30 days or less). If you have recently taken an antibiotic, had radiation or chemotherapy, you are absolutely a candidate for a probiotic. Otherwise, leave them on the shelf where the 7 different cultures with 5 billion organisms will do no harm.
Source: April 19, 2016 National Institutes of Health