Tag Archives: Rob Knight

Your Microbial Fingerprints

 

 

 

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Pioneering and ever-curious microbe researcher, Rob Knight, suggests that the multitude of micro-organisms living on our hands is so distinct from person to person it could be used for identification purposes.

 

 

Female hands typing ultrabook laptop computer keyboard, top view. Freelancer working at home office desk.

 

 

Knight and his colleague Noah Fierer, a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado – Boulder, examined personal computer keyboards and found microbial populations split between the G and H keys.
Look at your keyboard – you use the fingers of your left hand on the keys running left from the key and the fingers of your right hand on the keys running right from the H key. Knight and Fierer found different microbes colonizing each half of people’s keyboards.
Our left and right hands are each home to distinct microbial populations.

 

 

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Even more remarkably, they found distinct microbe populations living on each of people’s 10 fingertips. All the keys typed by one fingertip  had basically the same microbial communities living on them and those communities were different from the keys typed by that person’s other 9 fingertips.

We could also match up someone’s computer mouse to the palm of his or her hand with more than 90 percent accuracy. The microbes on your hands are very distinct from other people’s – on average, at least 85 percent different in terms of species diversity – which means that you have a microbial fingerprint.  (Knight, 2015, p.15)

 

 

 

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Even the cleanest person is host to about 150 microbial species on his or her hands. Washing your hands removes some of this population – but it takes a mere few hours for them to regenerate.  When these tiny organisms get transferred to another surface (eg, the keys and mouse of your computer), they can thrive there relatively unchanged for weeks. (Gajitz.com, 2015)

 

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So one of these days look for crime scene investigators to make use of these bacterial fingerprints to figure out exactly who was at a crime scene!

 

 

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REFERENCES

Gajitz.com. (2015). More Accurate Than DNA: Hand Germs Could ID Criminals. See: http://gajitz.com/more-accurate-than-dna-hand-germs-could-id-criminals/

Knight, R. (2015). Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes. See: http://www.amazon.com/Follow-Your-Gut-Enormous-Microbes/dp/1476784744/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

 

 

© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Rob Knight’s TED Talk: How Our Microbes Make Us Who We Are

 

 

 

Robert Knight at TED2014 - The Next Chapter, March 17-21, 2014, Session 5 - Us, Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: James Duncan Davidson
Robert Knight at TED2014 – The Next Chapter, March 17-21, 2014, Session 5 – Us, Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

 

Microbial Ecologist Rob Knight’s is passionate about exploring the microbial world that exists everywhere in and on our bodies. His 2014 TED Talk, How our microbes make us who we are, explains the basics. This talk led to his writing the charming and useful little book Follow Your Gut (Knight, 2015) that I wrote about a few weeks ago.
From the TED Speakers website:

Why you should listen

Using scatological research methods that might repel the squeamish, microbial researcher Rob Knight uncovers the secret ecosystem (or “microbiome”) of microbes that inhabit our bodies — and the bodies of every creature on earth. In the process, he’s discovered a complex internal ecology that affects everything from weight loss to our susceptibility to disease. As he said to Nature in 2012, “What motivates me, from a pragmatic standpoint, is how understanding the microbial world might help us improve human and environmental health.”

Knight’s recent projects include the American Gut, an attempt to map the unique microbiome of the United States using open-access data mining tools and citizen-scientists to discover how lifestyle and diet affect our internal flora and fauna, and our overall health.

What others say

“Faeces, lizards, keyboards, faces — Rob Knight likes to sequence the microbes on anything and everything. Next, he plans to sequence Earth.” — Nature, July 11, 2012

 

You can watch his TED Talk here.

YOUR CHANGING MICROBIOME

(Source: learn.genetics.utah.edu)
(Source: learn.genetics.utah.edu)

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Hardin, J.R. (2015). Short, Easy Read about Your Gut Microbiome. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/04/10/short-easy-read-about-your-gut-microbiome/

Knight, R. (2014). TED Talk: How our microbes make us who we are. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-icXZ2tMRM

Knight, R. with Buhler, B. (2015). Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes. A TED Original Book. See: http://www.amazon.com/Follow-Your-Gut-Enormous-Microbes/dp/1476784744

TED Speakers. (undated). Rob Knight’s TED Talk, How our microbes make us who we are. See: https://www.ted.com/speakers/rob_knight

 

 

© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.