Each city has its own microbial "fingerprint"

Each city has its own microbial "fingerprint"

Each city has its own molecular fingerprint from the microbes that define it, an international team of scientists who tested samples in 60 cities around the world has proven. In the following months, the microbiological "fingerprint" of Krakow will also be presented.

"On the basis of the material collected from the sole of the shoe, I could tell with about 90% accuracy which city its owner comes from" - said, prof. Christopher Mason, lead author of the publication that appeared in the magazine "Cell" ( https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674 (21) 00585-7), and the accompanying work on the website:  https: //microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-021-01044-7 .

Dr. hab. Eng. Paweł Łabaj from the Małopolska Center of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University (MCB Jagiellonian University). Information on the results of the work was provided by the Jagiellonian University.

In the project, researchers sequenced, analyzed, and species determination of all microbes identified in samples from 60 cities around the world.

According to the Jagiellonian University, the research is based on 4,728 samples collected over three years from cities on six continents. The results take into account local markers of antimicrobial resistance and represent the first systematic worldwide catalog of the urban microbial ecosystem. In addition to separate microbiome "fingerprints" in different cities, the analysis revealed a basic set of 31 species that were found in 97 percent. samples from the surveyed urban areas. The researchers identified 4,246 known species of urban microbes, but also found that further sampling would lead to species that had never been observed before.

The consortium project started in 2013, when prof. Christopher Mason began collecting and analyzing microbial samples in the New York City subway system. After the publication of the first results, he was contacted by researchers from around the world who wanted to do similar studies in their cities. In 2015, the global interest inspired prof. Mason to create the international MetaSUB (Metagenomics and Metadesign of Subways and Urban Biomes) consortium. One of the first to join was dr hab. Eng. Paweł Łabaj from MCB UJ, who previously collaborated with an American scientist in other projects. As a lead member of the International MetaSUB Consortium, he was first Principal Investigator in Vienna and now in Krakow. He also manages the work of the European consortium partners as part of the established MetaSUB Europe Society.

The main project of the consortium is the global City Sampling Day (gCSD), which takes place annually on June 21. Krakow joined the gCSD in 2020 when volunteers took swabs at stops and trams from ticket machines, seats, handrails, handles, located on the routes of tram lines 52, 50, and 14. Additional samples were collected using an air sampler in tunnels located around the main station.

This year the action will be repeated and based on the results from both years, Dr. Eng. Paweł Łabaj and his team will present a microbiological "fingerprint" of Krakow's urban space. The project is implemented in cooperation with the municipality.

The MetaSUB consortium also conducts other research, including comprehensive microbiological analysis of urban surfaces and mosquito populations before, during, and after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Another project, launched in 2020, focuses on studying the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses in domestic cats. A project related to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 is also planned. As a result, the consortium expanded its activity to sampling from air, water, and wastewater, not just from hard surfaces. (PAP)

author: Beata Kołodziej