Humans Possess Unique Microbial Cloud Signatures

Posted: Sep 22 2015, 9:45am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 22 2015, 9:31pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Humans Possess Unique Microbial Cloud Signatures
Image created by Viputheshwar Sitaraman, of Draw Science. Also view this graphical abstract at
  • People emit unique microbial signatures!

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New research claims every individual has a unique microbial cloud signature similar to a fingerprint.

Recently, new research was carried out on the human microbiome. The findings of the research were published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PeerJ today. According to the research, every single human emits a unique microbial cloud signature.

The research was carried out by researchers at the University of Oregon. Everyday humans emit millions of bacteria in to the air. The research focuses on the personal microbial cloud. The personal microbial cloud is the airborne microbes humans emit into the air. The researchers claim the distinctive cloud of bacteria can be traced back to an individual.

The research comprised of sequencing microbes from the air around 11 different individuals. The air was sequenced in a sanitized experimental chamber. 312 samples were taken from the air and dust in the chamber.

14 million sequences were run showing thousands of different microbes. The researchers found they could identify all of the occupants in the chamber through their combination of bacteria. Within four hours the cloud of microbes emitted into the surrounding air could be identified to the emitting human.

Several groups of bacteria were tested for, which are found in or around humans. Especially bacterial species such as Propionibacterium and Corynebacterium were looked for, while the bacteria was found in almost all the humans.

The distinguishing feature was the combinations of different bacteria in every individual. The combination of bacteria was unique in every human tested. The tests focused on categorizing entire microbial communities.

The lead author of the study was James F. Meadow, a postdoctoral researcher formerly from the University of Oregon. According to Meadow they were surprised to find they can identify the personalized microbial clouds.

"We expected that we would be able to detect the human microbiome in the air around a person, but we were surprised to find that we could identify most of the occupants just by sampling their microbial cloud," said lead author James F. Meadow, a postdoctoral researcher formerly from the Biology and the Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon.

"Our results confirm that an occupied space is microbially distinct from an unoccupied one, and demonstrate for the first time that individuals release their own personalized microbial cloud," the authors concluded.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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