Saturday, 26 August 2017

Living together brings couples' microbiomes together



Couples who live together share many things: Bedrooms, bathrooms, food, and even bacteria. After analyzing skin microbiomes from cohabitating couples, microbial ecologists found that people who live together significantly influence the microbial communities on each other's skin.

The commonalities were strong enough that computer algorithms could identify cohabitating couples with 86 percent accuracy based on skin microbiomes alone, the researchers report this week in mSystems, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

However, the researchers also reported that cohabitation is likely less influential on a person's microbial profile than other factors like biological sex and what part of the body is being studied. In addition, the microbial profile from a person's body usually looks more like their own microbiome than like that of their significant other.

The analyses revealed stronger correlations in some sites than in others. For example, microbial communities on the inner thigh were more similar among people of the same biological sex than between cohabiting partners. Computer algorithms could differentiate between men and women with 100 percent accuracy by analyzing inner thigh samples alone, suggesting that a person's biological sex can be determined based on that region, but not others.

The researchers also found that the microbial profiles of sites on a person's left side -- like hands, eyelids, armpits, or nostrils -- strongly resemble those on their right side. Of all the swab sites, the least microbial diversity was found on either side of the outer nose.

See:

Ashley A. Ross, Andrew C. Doxey, Josh D. Neufeld. The Skin Microbiome of Cohabiting CouplesmSystems, July 2017 DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00043-17

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle