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PLoS One. 2015 Oct 2;10(10):e0139044. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139044. eCollection 2015.

Metagenomic Human Repiratory Air in a Hospital Environment.

Author information

Genomics and Synthetic Biology Center, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Beijing Hospital, Beijing, China.
Genomics and Synthetic Biology Center, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China; School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
Department of Hospital Infection Control, Beijing Hospital, Beijing, China.
Department of Medicine Laboratory, Beijing Hospital, Beijing, China.
State key laboratory of precision measurement technology and instruments, Tsinghua university, Beijing, China.
Beijing Hospital, Beijing Institute of Geriatrics, Key Laboratory of Geriatrics, Ministry of Health, Beijing, China.


Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) or nosocomial infection is an issue that frequent hospital environment. We believe conventional regulated Petri dish method is insufficient to evaluate HAI. To address this problem, metagenomic sequencing was applied to screen airborne microbes in four rooms of Beijing Hospital. With air-in amount of sampler being setup to one person's respiration quantity, metagenomic sequencing identified huge numbers of species in the rooms which had already qualified widely accepted petridish exposing standard, imposing urgency for new technology. Meanwhile,the comparative culture only got small portion of recovered species and remain blind for even cultivable pathogens reminded us the limitations of old technologies. To the best of our knowledge, the method demonstrated in this study could be broadly applied in hospital indoor environment for various monitoring activities as well as HAI study. It is also potential as a transmissible pathogen real-time modelling system worldwide.

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