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Your microbiome is shared with your family … including your pets

Your microbiome is shared with your family … including your pets

Research just published in Science has shown that signature microbes follow you from house to house, that is, you influence the local microbiome, not the reverse. Per the Editor's Summary of the paper:

"Householders share more than habitation; they also share inhabitants. In a diverse sample of U.S. homes, Lax et al. found that people and animals sharing homes shared their microbial communities (microbiota) too, probably because of skin shedding and hand and foot contamination. When families moved, their microbiological “aura” followed. If one person left the home even for a few days, their contribution to the microbiome diminished. These findings have implications not only for household identity and composition, but also for indicators of the members' health and well-being. "

Here's an interview with Andrew Holmes, Associate Professor at University of Sydney,

Cheryl Power, Honorary Fellow in Microbiology and Immunology at University of Melbourne and

Silvana Gaudieri, Associate professor Forensic DNA and Microbiology Group at University of Western Australia on what this new research means:

As Andrew Holmes says "we inoculate the house, rather than the house inoculating us."

Note the article's advice that healthy people don't need to worry about evicting microbial tenants, as "there there is no need to worry as they only cause problems for those with otherwise compromised immune systems." So given we do need to worry, perhaps we should be ditching the antibacterial soaps and use methylated spirits and detergents for cleaning, particularly given Cheryl Power's statement that "other studies have shown excessive use of antibacterial compounds selects for more resilient bacteria."


Photo: Orange Bracket Fungus. Thanks to Jay for identifying this strange fungus that grows out like a shelf on dead trees.

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