Scientists appear to have found a new and important way to tell cities apart. The American Society for Microbiology reports that each city has its own unique germ signature.
A new study published this week indicates that cities have their own distinct microbial communities, which don’t vary much among offices located in the same city.
“Sampling microbes from nine offices in three North American cities, the research, directed by Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, also found that human skin contributes heavily to the composition of built environment surfaces and that office floors have more microbes than other surfaces, likely because of soil and other materials deposited from workers’ shoes,” the ASM reports.
Senior study author J. Gregory Caporaso, PhD, an assistant professor of biological sciences and assistant director of the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at the university, said: “We suspect that in the absence of extreme conditions like flooding, microbes may be passively accumulating on surfaces in the built environment rather than undergoing an active process.”
The study sampled offices over a one-year period in Flagstaff, San Diego and Toronto.