City homes may have more bacteria & fungi in them than jungle mud huts

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , /

The urban jungle might have even more fungi and bacteria than the jungle itself.Those are the surprising findings of scientists who took samples from all kinds of environments ranging from city dwellers to mud huts in the Brazilian rain forest The large amount of fungi in the homes of those living in cities is remarkable given the fact people are using more cleaning and anti-fungal products than ever before  The findings were published in Nature Microbiology and might provide clues as to why residents of urban areas are often found to be susceptible to higher rates of certain health conditions that could well be linked to the presence of microbes   Researchers found city homes to be rife with industrial chemicals, cleaning agents and fungi that love warm, dark surfaces while jungle huts had fresher air, more sunlight and natural materials (file photo) The researchers compared microscopic materials in homes and people’s bodies taking swabs from different environementsHalf of the world’s population lives in cities and while such urban living usually means there is less infectious disease, other health problems come to the fore including increased rates of asthma, allergies and obesity  The scientists involved in the study came from several universities and included chemists, microbiologists and even architects  The team were able to take swab samples from a whole host of living conditions.The researchers took swabs from the jungle, rural, town and city homes across South America The most remote location was a village in the Amazon while the urban samples came from Manaus, Brazil Other residences included a Peruvian rural town with wooden homes that didn’t have any indoor plumbing; a Peruvian city of 400,000 residents with more modern amenities; and the metropolis of Manaus, Brazil, home to two million people  People, pets and the surfaces in their homes were all swabbed in order to collect a sample of any bacteria or fungi that might be present  ‘Looking at differences in the microbiology of their homes may help to explain these differences, and to guide new therapies,’ wrote coauthor Rob Knight, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California, San Diego The scientists noticed that the more ‘urban’ a home was, the greater the diversity of chemicals that was found The authors suggest the fungi and bacteria found in urban homes developed immunity to the chemicals, allowing them to thriveMolecules derived from medications and cleaning agents were part of the interior environment of homes in the metropolis and city but not in the rural or jungle homes  Medicines were also more frequently found in urban homes along with antifungal compounds Chemicals found in soaps were also found more frequently in the urban settings. Although the urban residents said they cleaned their home and themselves more frequently, surfaces in their houses had a greater diversity of fungal species associated with human skin   Researchers visited the metropolis of Manaus, Brazil, home to two million people in order to test for fungi and bacteria in an urban settingIn a bizarre twist, despite urban residents using more cleaning products to rid their homes of bacteria, it seemed the opposite was true  Results from the swabs showed that there was more fungus in the urban locations and a wider variety of species as well  It could be because the fungi have become resistant to cleaning products, the study said RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next Astronaut votes from SPACE: Andrew Morgan casts an early ‘Please stop’: Patrick Fraz tearfully details Kelsey’s. Share this article Share It may also reflect the urban homes’ warmer temperatures, reduced airflow, lower levels of natural light and higher amounts of human skin flakes  The authors suggest the fungi develop immunity to the chemicals allowing them to thrive   ‘Urbanization represents a profound shift in human behavior. Modern living literally walls us off from the natural environment and shuts us in with industrial compouds, higher carbon dioxide levels, and skin-loving fungi,’ said senior author Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a professor in the biochemistry and microbiology ‘This study sheds light on how human-created environments affect our health and how we can think about improving them ‘

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