Last week several members of the BioBE Center visited Boulder, CO for the 3rd annual Microbiology of the Built Environment Conference hosted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. James Meadow presented our recent work on building-scale microbial patterns, the phone-hand connection, and the human microbial cloud. Adam Altrichter presented a poster (see it here) on our ongoing work with the Light Box experiments that Kyla Martichuski put together for a recent symposium at the U of O. Gwynne Mhuireach also presented a poster with an update on the analyses from her study looking at the bacteria in air from parks vs parking lots throughout Eugene. Check out the Storify put together from tweets during the conference to see what folks were talking about all week.
The BioBE paper “Indoor airborne bacterial communities are influenced by ventilation, occupancy, and outdoor air source” was recently noted as one of the most downloaded papers from the journal Indoor Air in 2013.
Funny you should ask! A new BioBE study is out today in the journal Microbiome. We sampled the bacteria from surfaces all over a university classroom and found that the bacteria on those surfaces can tell you quite a bit about how we interact with those surfaces. We also made a quick film that discusses our results.
Here’s a list of all the media coverage on the recent release of the Lillis Dust paper as compiled by James Meadow. There are some really interesting write-ups that tie together some ideas from previous work out of the BioBE Center and related labs.
- “Building Design Influences Bacterial Growth” // Popular Science, Brooke Borel
- “Changing your office layout affects its (bacterial) culture” // Quartz, Rachel Feltman
- “A Building’s Design and Shape it’s Microbiome” // Futurity, Jim Barlow-Oregon
- “How the Architecture of Our Buildings Shapes the Germs Around Us” // Gizmodo, Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan
- “How Architecture Could Shape Your Microbiome” // Fast Company, Shaunacy Ferro
- “Architecture May Influence Which Microbes Surround You” // Wired, Greg Miller
- “Bacteria by Design” // The Scientist, Jef Akst
- “Architecture and Your Microbiome” // The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal
- “Studying – not wantonly killing – the microbes around us and the rise of the “microbiology of the built environment” // microBEnet Blog, Jonathan Eisen
Articles dispersing the UOregon press release or the above original articles:
Fast Company write up on the PLoS Lillis Dust paper.
We’ve just published a new paper exploring the bacterial communities hanging out in the dust of a big university building, Lillis Hall. It’s the same building that we used when exploring the effects of ventilation and occupancy on airborne bacteria (published in Indoor Air). This time, we were interested in the long-term accumulation (about a decade) of indoor dust, and how microbes in dust are influenced by architecture and occupant use. We found that what you do in a room, how many people there are in a room, and how well connected rooms are, all make a big difference. We were also surprised to find that offices located right beside one another vary considerably in their dust microbial communities just based on the source of their ventilation (from a window or from a mechanical system).
One of these days, we’ll know enough about the microbes in our buildings to manage them for a healthier indoor environment. This paper helps us understand the architectural choices that we can use in the future to manage our microbes.
The paper is open access and available at PLOS ONE.
A new paper just published by members of BioBE is out now, and open access at Indoor Air journal. The study details air samples collected in classrooms at the University of Oregon, and the temporal changes that happen in indoor airborne microbial communities over the course of a week. We found that classrooms that were well ventilated very closely followed changes in the microbial communities outside of the building, but that rooms that were closed off at night and on weekends (the way buildings are often operated) retained a stagnant microbial community until the ventilation was opened up again. The paper also reports on human-associated microbes that are more commonly detected when people are in the room. This paper adds to our growing understanding of the sorts of microbes we encounter in our everyday lives in the built environment, as well as the architectural choices that drive their ecological patterns.
Indoor microbiology was a notable presence at last week’s ISME Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark. The biennial summit of the world’s microbial ecologists featured research from a growing number of indoor microbiology groups, including the BioBE Center. Tim O’Connor presented the Center’s latest results on the microbial biogeography of the Lillis Business Complex (“Building-scale biogeography of indoor bacteria”). As revealed by microbial DNA in settled dust, everything is not everywhere within buildings; rather, architectural parameters and human use produce spatially structured bacterial communities. Other indoor microbiome highlights included a round-table discussion entitled “Indoor Microbiology: new molecular-based insights and management strategies,” which promoted the field’s recent advances and open questions. We look forward to even more great built-environment microbiology at the next ISME Congress in Seoul.
The BioBE Center’s preliminary findings at the Lillis Business Complex presented at TEDxPortland this year can now be viewed online via TEDxTalks.
“Earth’s Last Unexplored Wilderness: Your Very Own Home” in the July-August 2012 issue of Discover Magazine features the BioBE Center and other prominent labs leading the investigation of the indoor microbiome. Members of BioBE talk about center projects including The University of Oregon’s Lillis Business Complex and Providence Milwaukie Hospital, highlighting the importance what microbial communities are living around us and how our building design and human activities impact “who” we come into contact with on a daily basis in our homes, office buildings, and hospitals.