Artist’s Rendition of the Skin Microbiome – Part of Our Second Genome
This interesting TOP 10 LIST OF MICROBIAL FACTS is from Alexandra Carmichael, Director of Community, Product, and Growth at uBiome – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
1. Kissing partners have more bacteria in common on the backs of their tongues than unrelated individuals, but since the similarities aren’t correlated either with kissing technique, nor with how often those involved indulge in a spot of tonsil hockey, we may be unconsciously attracted to partners who have oral microbiomes which match our own.
2. But mating may not be always involve similarity. In 1995 scientists conducted a “sweaty T-shirt experiment”, by getting males to wear T-shirts, then persuading women to sniff them (the shirts, not the guys) the next day in a kind of blind – if somewhat whiffy – test. The shirts’ odors were largely caused by masculine bacteria. The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is a sophisticated system involved in immune response. Females classified those as most pleasant which came from men whose MHC differed from their own, suggesting that females might be attracted to someone who can give their potential offspring improved immunity, on the basis that two divergent MHC profiles are better than one.
3. Should you share a nice chilled goblet of sparkling wine with your true love this weekend, Spanish researchers believe that bacteria which grew during the wine’s secondary fermentation (yeast and sugar were added just before bottling to create its fizz) affect the size and persistency of the bubbles in your glass. Hic.
4. Dutch researchers persuaded heterosexual partners to share an intimate kiss (presumably not too big an ask), then invited the females to drink a probiotic yogurt drink, and to lock lips and tongues with their paramours for a second time. This passionate procedure helped the scientists estimate the number of bacteria transferred in a 10 second kiss. About 80 million was their conclusion.
5. Certain bacteria in the stomach have been shown to love chocolate almost as much as their human host. Research presented at a 2014 American Chemical Society meeting showed that gut microbes can break down chocolate components into molecules that may reduce stress in the blood vessels.
6. While many women may be aware of their vaginal microbiome, I suspect fewer men might know about the seminal microbiome. Yup, all healthy males have some low level of bacteria in their semen and that’s fine apparently. However a 2008 Italian study suggested that higher levels might play a part in infertility.
7. Cut flowers, frequently given as Valentine’s gifts, will last longer if the water in their vase isn’t allowed to become bacteria-ridden. That’s what causes the unpleasant furry stuff you sometimes find on flower stems in water. One solution? Apparently a few drops of vodka added to the vase, along with a teaspoon of sugar, can do the trick. It creates an antibacterial effect. Change the water, and add more vodka and sugar every other day.
8. Mark O. Martin, an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Tacoma, Washington, made a Valentine’s Day card for his wife Jennifer by painting a message on a Petri dish using bioluminescent marine bacteria. His words of love glowed in the dark. Beat that Hallmark.
9. In a study of shared oral microbiomes, couples with the most similar salivary microbes were those who kissed at least nine times a day. Bad news for Brits after a survey showed that 20% of UK couples kiss just once a week.
10. Since researchers thought it would be invasive (not to mention rather icky) to take regular stool samples from intimate partners, they instead studied baboons in Kenya. Their 2015 findings revealed that the primates who groomed each other most frequently ended up with the most similar microbiomes, leading them to hypothesise that the more humans hug and hold hands, the more bacteria they’ll have in common.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at uBiome.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
If you love your bacteria,
They, too, will love you.
Director of Community, Product, and Growth
Here’s uBiome’s site, where you can learn more about them and order kits to have one or more of your body’s microbiomes sequenced: your gut, mouth, nose, genitals, and skin.
Alexandra’s post includes a coupon for 30% off the price of any kit: LOVE30
She also included a list of further readings in case you want more information on any of these microbial facts:
Bacteria contribute to bubble size and persistence in sparkling wine
Complementary seminovaginal microbiome in couples
Do bacterial infections cause reduced ejaculate quality? A meta-analysis of antibiotic treatment of male infertility
Does kissing aid human bonding by semiochemical addiction?
Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing
Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships
Gut microbes make dark chocolate healthy
How our microbes can influence who we’re attracted to
How to Make Flowers Last Longer
How Your Social Life Changes Your Microbiome
I love you. Actually, I love your microbiome.
MHC-Dependent Mate Preferences in Humans
Is Mate Choice in Humans MHC-Dependent?
Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing
Social networks predict gut microbiome composition in wild baboons
The major histocompatibility complex and its functions
The precise reason for the health benefits of dark chocolate
The presence of bacteria species in semen and sperm quality
Flower Handlers: Sanitation is Crucial
What Are the Common Causes of Bacteria in Semen?
What’s In His Kiss? 80 Million Bacteria
Here’s an earlier post I wrote on uBiome and microbiome sequencing: uBiome – How to Get Your Microbiomes Sequenced.
The Human Ecosystem: We’re Connected to the Environment Through the Trillions of Microbes That Live in and on Us
Hardin, J.R. (2015). uBiome – How to Get Your Microbiomes Sequenced. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/12/19/how-to-get-your-microbiomes-sequenced/
uBiome (2016). See http://ubiome.com/
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.