Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Did you know your microbiome can be detected on your phone?

Structure and shape of E. coli 70S
ribosome. For the 30S subunit, the
16S rRNA (dark blue) is shown.
by Vossman

According to a study published recently in Peer J. the bacteria that are present on a cell phone closely resembles that which was sampled from the owners fingers. The analysis, performed by University of Oregon scientists, was a proof of concept experiment that used short-read 16S sequencing to categorize the whole microbial community.

This type of sequencing refers to sequencing of the gene for the 16S ribosomal RNA component of a subunit of the prokaryotic ribosome. Previous work has indicated that this gene is highly conserved in bacteria species and thus can be used in phylogenetic studies such as this.

While it may not be surprising that the bacteria that reside on our hands can also be found on our phones, the authors propose that the phones could be used as a non-invasive way to monitor our health. The uses of this screening could include real-time assessment of possible exposure to pathogens that could be carried into and out of a medical facility.

Some information was obtained from the Science Direct article:  Cell phones reflect our personal microbiome

Original article: J.F. Meadows et al Mobile phones carry the personal microbiome of their owners. Peer J, 2014