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Midsummer Bug Hunt | Economist

DDepends on where June 21st, where you live, is either the summer solstice or the winter solstice. For some, this is a festive moment with strange rituals.And some of the celebrities are the international metagenomics and metadesign of the subway and urban biome consortium (meta).sub). In either Bogotá, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London, Minneapolis, or about 60 cities around the world, someone is sneaking a ticket office, railing, turnstile ticket gate, or seat at a local underground station that day. If you see it, don’t be afraid.It’s just one of the metasubVolunteers collecting samples of local microbes.

MetasubThe purpose of is to understand the invisible complex of bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses that are the smallest representatives of life. Every year on June 21st, we coordinate an army of small game hunters who are tasked with sampling public transport in the city. The swabs are then tagged for collection time, local temperature and humidity, and sampled surface properties and sent for gene sequencing and statistical analysis.

The latest findings from the consortium are recent cellIs based on 4,728 samples collected in 2015, 2016 and 2017. These show that each city has a microbial ecosystem that is well-characterized to function as a fingerprint (see graph). An algorithm trained with the data has an 88% chance of determining the source of a randomly selected sample. Some species are ubiquitous. Almost all cotton swabs detected 31 (all bacteria), and an additional 1,145 (bar brewing yeast, bacteria) were detected in more than 70% of the samples. However, most of the 4,246 identifiable species were much narrower in distribution.

Above these identifiable creatures is the unknown. About half of the sequenced creatures did not match in the world’s public genetic data banks, says Daniela Bezdan, former Executive Secretary of Meta.sub He was one of the research leaders. She estimates that more than 1,000 bacteria collected and more than 10,000 viruses remain unidentified.

Meet in the moonlight …

Unidentified organisms are common in such microbiological fishing expeditions, as a correct understanding of microbial biodiversity is still a long way off. But intriguing, such hidden neighbors are unlikely to be dangerous. “We know that there are no pathogens because people don’t get ridiculous and sick,” says another paper author, David Dunco.

The identity of the members of this dark microflora is just one of the unsolved mysteries. The other regulates the microbial ecology of cities. Surprisingly, the observed patterns reflect the more familiar ecology of plants and animals in that equatorial cities have a richer ecosystem than near-pole cities (microbial diversity). Decreases at a rate of 7 species per degree of latitude). No one knows why this pattern is related to macroscopic creatures. It may add insight that it also applies to microorganisms.

In addition to the change in latitude, the other three patterns stood out. Coastal cities share features not found in inland cities. So is the one in the highlands compared to the one in the lowlands. And so are densely populated cities.

At the moment, metasub He is still in the position of an early botanist and zoologist, collecting information about exactly what is there. However, as the underlying patterns become apparent, such research can bring practical benefits. For example, public health agencies need to monitor and map disease epidemics to identify harmful new species. They may also allow monitoring of bacteria that carry genes that confer resistance to antibiotics.Metasub Such genes were found to be widespread but unevenly distributed. They were less common in Oceania and the Middle East. Why is it impossible to say so far.

The current treatise is DNA From the sample, but metasub Survey started RNA In the same way. This is especially related to viruses, many of which store genes as follows, such as the coronavirus that is currently sweeping the world. RNA,not DNA.. As the team prepares for the next collection day, we hope that the data collected will better describe the role of the virus in the city and provide insight into the epidemic of covid-19. ■■

This article was published in the Printed Science and Technology section under the heading “Midsummer Bug Hunt”.

Midsummer Bug Hunt | Economist

Source link Midsummer Bug Hunt | Economist

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