Tagged: skin

The concept of hygiene and the human microbiome.

Reblogged from MicrobeBE.net.


(This post was written by Roo Vandegrift, at the University of Oregon)

I was recently asked to spearhead the writing of a review centered around the interaction between the concept of hygiene and our increasingly nuanced understanding of the human skin microbiome for the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center at the University of Oregon.

This review began with an invitation from Dyson to conduct an impartial review of hand drying studies, which have been mired in competing interests and faulty methods. We saw an opportunity to not only provide an unbiased review of the literature, but also to ask a more fundamental question: how should hygiene be defined in light of our evolving perspective of the human and indoor microbiome?  We delivered a brief summary to Dyson (here) and then built upon that work to develop this question.  

As we started digging into the body of literature on hand hygiene, two things struck us as peculiar: the first was that in the hundreds of studies explicitly examining hygiene, the concept was never explicitly defined; the second was that there seemed to be a clear division between skin microbiological investigations coming from clinically and ecologically informed perspectives, with clinical research generally relying on older cultivation-dependent techniques. These two issues became the drivers for our review, and our goal was to provide an explicit definition of hygiene that would help to bridge the gap between the clinical skin microbiology literature and the newer human-associated microbial ecology literature. We were then able to use the body of literature on hand drying as a case-study to examine the implications of using a microbial ecology-based approach to defining hygiene.

You can read the full review as a preprint on bioRxiv now: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/12/20/0957450

You can read the shorter, white page summary of the review on the BioBE blog: https://biobe.uoregon.edu/2016/11/04/cleanliness-in-context

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Skin Microbiome Workshop in Boulder, CO

In mid-October members of the BioBE center, co-director Brendan Bohannan and Biology graduate student Ashley Bateman, attended the Skin Microbiome Workshop in Boulder, CO. The 2-day meeting was facilitated by Rob Knight from UC-Boulder and Wally Buchholz from the Army’s Life Sciences Division, and was intended to provide a forum for diverse members of the Skin Microbiota community (including physicians, biological scientists, and biophysicists) to meet and form potential collaborative partnerships while formulating both observational and hypothesis-driven approaches and questions to address the most pressing questions in the field.

Many of the questions that came out of the workshop have been and continue to be fundamental to the BioBE’s mission: what is the relationship between the environment (including the built environment) and an individual’s microbiome? Is an individual’s microbiome consistently unique, and do we leave a fingerprint of our uniqueness on the built environment? What kinds of implications might this have for future forensic approaches? It was a beneficial and productive workshop, and we at the BioBE center look forward to continuing our work that will address these important questions! Thanks to Rob Knight and Wally Buchholz for facilitating a wonderful workshop!