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House dust reveals gender, location and presence of pets


A recent study by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and North Carolina State University has suggested that the dust microbes in the house predict the geographical location of the house, the gender of the occupants and the presence of a pet in the house, livemint reports.

"Every day, we're surrounded by a vast array of organisms in our homes, most of which we can't see," said Noah Fierer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU-Boulder and a co-author of the study, according to livemint.

"We live in a microbial zoo, and this study was an attempt to catalogue that diversity," said Fierer.

The finding by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and North Carolina State University may prove useful for forensic investigations and allergen research.

The study also highlighted the vast microbial diversity in a household and what these organisms can tell about the homes they inhabit.

The study analyzed 1,200 homes across the continental US. Each house is home to around 5,000 different species of bacteria and 2,000 species of fungi. The fungi provide clues about the location, while the bacteria provide information on the identity of the residents.

"Geography is the best predictor of fungi in your home," said Fierer. "The reason is that most fungi blow in from outdoors via soil and leaves," he said.

The study also revealed that homes with only male occupants have a different bacterial makeup than those with both male and female occupants.

"One of the key takeaways is that if you want to change what you breathe inside your house, you would either have to move very far away or change the people and the pets you live with," said Albert Barbarán, a graduate researcher in CU-Boulder's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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