House dust contains around 9K different microbes, says study

A research team representing the University of Colorado in Boulder analyzed dust collected from 1,200 homes across the US and found that they contain around 9,000 different species of microbes.

According to the researchers, the types of fungi and bacteria appeared to vary depending on factors such as the location of the homes, whether they had pets and what kind of people live in them. The entire study has been published in the popular journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Dr. Noah Fierer, an associate professor of evolutionary biology and ecology at the university and the lead author of the study, said that the study conducted by him and his colleagues has investigated a very basic natural history.

He added that it’s a known fact that microbes reside in our homes; so, what the research team under him is doing now is trying to find out how the types of these tiny creatures vary across space. The study conducted by Dr. Fierer and his team is part of a citizen science project called “The Wild Life of Our Homes”.

To allow the research team at the University of Colorado carry out the study, volunteers from the 1,200 homes in the US provided them with dust samples from their respective homes. The scientists informed that the samples were collected from ledges above doorways, areas that often get overlooked when cleaning.

After conducting genetic analyses of these samples, scientists came to know that the house dust collected from different corners of the country is home to thousands of microscopic creatures.

According to the researchers, on an average each household was home to over 2,000 different varieties of fungi. Some of the most prominent names in that list were of Fusarium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. However, the factor that decided the exact makeup of the fungal ecosystems was the location of the homes.

Dr. Fierer said that the majority of the fungi types detected inside the homes appeared to be coming from outside. According to him, these creatures enter our homes through open doors and windows as well as our clothing. As a result, the types of fungi found in a particular home depend primarily on its location.

The analyses of house dust also revealed that on an average, each household is home to 7,000 different varieties of bacteria.

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