Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Microbes and indoor ecology

This photo is from the NYTimes article's video, "The Jungle Indoors."
Great article in the New York Times yesterday about a collaborative effort among ecologists to map the microbiome in homes and other built structures (e.g., hospitals).  Last week, the American Society for Microbiology held its annual meeting in Denver, CO, and I was lucky enough to meet some of the participants. One, Dr. Jack Gilbert, was kind enough to offer some suggestions on my research.  He is also mentioned in this article for his research into the infection of a new hospital wing by its patients.  Basically, researchers are reproducing E.O. Wilson and Daniel Simberloff's classic island biogeography experiment, where mangrove islands in the Florida Keys were fumigated to eliminate all arthropod life, and then the recolonization dynamics could be observed over time.  However, this time, scientists are looking at biogeography and colonization dynamics of built spaces by microbial species.  It's a whole new area for ecologists for explore, with plenty of applications for human health.  Also, much of the research is being done by CU's own Noah Fierer, who is an incredible microbial ecologist.

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