Contrary to what has been previously stated, house dust may contain beneficial bacteria and fungi. Not only do these microorganisms stimulate our immune system, but they can also provide useful information about residents.
The people responsible for the current experiment were biology professors at the University of Colorado, Boulder and University of North Carolina. They invited people to take part in the experiment by collecting dust samples from their homes and by sending them to their headquarters.
Participants were asked to avoid home areas that are frequently cleaned as samples could have been biased. Instead, scientists advised them to go for the inaccessible zones like the surface above the door. Respondents were further asked to provide information about their daily routines and their lifestyles by filling out a survey.
Surprisingly, 1,200 people sent house dust samples as evidence of their wish to take part in the experiment. The majority of them were so amused by the idea behind the experiment that they collected samples from obscure places that not even scientists could think of.
By analyzing the submitted materials, researchers have come to the conclusion that there are thousands of bacteria and fungi populating our homes. This should not scare residents as some of them have really benefic effects on humans’ body and can protect inhabitants from other threats. In addition, house dust bacteria can give us large amounts of information on the people living in the house.
More specifically, dust bacteria can tell whether there are more women or men living in the house. Pets are carriers of many bacterium species that give a personalized touch to our home ecosystems. Scientists claim this is the easiest inference that could be made based on the provided house dust samples.
Fungi, on the other hand, have a lot to do with the geographical area people live in. Their presence in the house can help researchers determine the geographical region of the respective resident. People, who want to avoid fungi or get rid of the ones that have already populated their homes, have no other solution but to move out.
Scientists noticed that homes, which were primarily populated by men contained different types of bacteria compared to the ones where women’s ratio was bigger. Scientists identified larger quantities of Corynebacterium, of Dermabacter and fecal-related genus Roseburia in homes with predominantly male inhabitants.
Noah Fierer, the lead author of the study believes this is the first comprehensive study that has been made to identify bacteria and fungi in homes. In spite of the large percentage of variability, the study was accurate enough when determining the gender of the residents and the presence of pets in the house, Fierer concluded.
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