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Sci Adv. 2016 Feb 12;2(2):e1501061. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501061. eCollection 2016 Feb.

Walls talk: Microbial biogeography of homes spanning urbanization.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR 00931, USA.
2
School of Architecture, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR 00931, USA.
3
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
4
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
5
Department of Mathematics, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR 00931, USA.
6
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR 00931, USA.
7
Department of Microbiology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.
8
Federal University of Amazonas, Manaus, AM 66077-000, Brazil.
9
Center for Natural Sciences and Humanities, Federal University of ABC, Santo André, SP 09210, Brazil.
10
Department of Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.
11
Departments of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
12
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR 00931, USA.; Department of Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.

Abstract

Westernization has propelled changes in urbanization and architecture, altering our exposure to the outdoor environment from that experienced during most of human evolution. These changes might affect the developmental exposure of infants to bacteria, immune development, and human microbiome diversity. Contemporary urban humans spend most of their time indoors, and little is known about the microbes associated with different designs of the built environment and their interaction with the human immune system. This study addresses the associations between architectural design and the microbial biogeography of households across a gradient of urbanization in South America. Urbanization was associated with households' increased isolation from outdoor environments, with additional indoor space isolation by walls. Microbes from house walls and floors segregate by location, and urban indoor walls contain human bacterial markers of space use. Urbanized spaces uniquely increase the content of human-associated microbes-which could increase transmission of potential pathogens-and decrease exposure to the environmental microbes with which humans have coevolved.

KEYWORDS:

Built environment; microbes

PMID:
26933683
PMCID:
PMC4758746
DOI:
10.1126/sciadv.1501061
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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