Homes are a hotbed of bacteria, containing bugs often found in soil, on skin, and, rather grossly, in feces, writes Wired's Sarah Zhang, who three years ago swabbed various spots of her apartment and sent them to the Wild Life of Our Homes citizen science project for analysis.
The team, led by Noah Fierer from the University of Colorado, analyzed the microbiomes of 1,200 homes in the US, reporting their results this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They found that the number of people living in the house, the male-to-female ratio, and whether any pets live there influences the bacterial communities found in indoor dust.
After reading this, Zhang "felt what has since become common reading microbiome papers: disappointment," she says. "Not because the science was bad but because the findings seemed underwhelming."
However, she notes that she might be being impatient as metagenomic studies of microbial communities are fairly new and the field is still in the phase of cataloging the microbial world. "And I understand the cataloguing must come first, but I wouldn't mind fast forwarding just a tiny bit into the future," Zhang adds.