Maria Juliana Soto-Giron

Bacteria in the pipes: Study identifies the hard-to-detect microbes in hospital shower hoses

Growth of Mycobacterium isolated on a plate of culture medium. (Photo: Stacey Pfaller, EPA)

The human microbiome, a diverse collection of microorganisms living inside us and on our skin, has attracted considerable attention for its role in a broad range of human health issues. Now, researchers are discovering that the built environment also has a microbiome, which includes a community of potentially-pathogenic bacteria living inside water supply pipes. A paper published March 11 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology describes microbial communities found in shower hoses at a major U.S. hospital. The study documented bacteria – and related genes – using cutting-edge metagenomic techniques that allow the characterization of organisms that cannot be detected using traditional culture-based microbiology assays.

Monday, March 14, 2016
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