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Microbiome. 2015 Jun 19;3:25. doi: 10.1186/s40168-015-0088-3. eCollection 2015.

Athletic equipment microbiota are shaped by interactions with human skin.

Author information

1
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL USA ; Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL USA.
2
Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL USA ; Graduate Program in Biophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA.
3
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA.
4
Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL USA.
5
Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL USA ; Computation Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA.
6
MO BIO Laboratories Inc, Carlsbad, CA USA.
7
Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL USA ; Graduate Program in Biophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA ; Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA ; Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC 5029, Chicago, IL 60637 USA ; Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543 USA ; College of Environmental and Resource Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058 China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Americans spend the vast majority of their lives in built environments. Even traditionally outdoor pursuits, such as exercising, are often now performed indoors. Bacteria that colonize these indoor ecosystems are primarily derived from the human microbiome. The modes of human interaction with indoor surfaces and the physical conditions associated with each surface type determine the steady-state ecology of the microbial community.

RESULTS:

Bacterial assemblages associated with different surfaces in three athletic facilities, including floors, mats, benches, free weights, and elliptical handles, were sampled every other hour (8 am to 6 pm) for 2 days. Surface and equipment type had a stronger influence on bacterial community composition than the facility in which they were housed. Surfaces that were primarily in contact with human skin exhibited highly dynamic bacterial community composition and non-random co-occurrence patterns, suggesting that different host microbiomes-shaped by selective forces-were being deposited on these surfaces through time. However, bacterial assemblages found on the floors and mats changed less over time, and species co-occurrence patterns appeared random, suggesting more neutral community assembly.

CONCLUSIONS:

These longitudinal patterns highlight the dramatic turnover of microbial communities on surfaces in regular contact with human skin. By uncovering these longitudinal patterns, this study promotes a better understanding of microbe-human interactions within the built environment.

KEYWORDS:

Athletic equipment; Gym microbiome; Microbiology; Next-generation sequencing; Niche communities

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