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Citizen Science Makes Microbiome Map

A project in Melbourne is examining how diverse our oral microbiome is, and how it may be affected by housemates, pets and where we live. Researchers hope to shed some light on any connection between microbiomes and allergies, as Melbourne has become known as the allergy capital of the world.

Preliminary results show that Melburnians eat too much sugar and not enough fruit and vegetables, which reduces the diversity of mouth microbes.

Almost 1500 people participated in the study, providing a saliva sample and filling out a questionnaire at an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum last year. Researchers have used the data to create an interactive map showing how microbiome diversity varies across the city.

While the data is still being analysed, the researchers are cautious about discussing results, but some early findings include that people living with at least one other person had a higher diversity of microbes.

Initial results also showed that Victorians share ‘big chunks’ of similar bacteria to other cities around the world, possibly ruling out the likelihood that people in Melbourne have radically different microbiomes.

Researcher Johanna Simkin says, “It's more likely to be a combination of microbiome including hyper-cleanliness, diet, cultural factors, and our vitamin D levels.”

At PIM we have a particular interest in how our microbiomes influence our health and wellbeing. Contact us to find out more.


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